President Trump is looking for a surefire conservative for the Supreme Court. For all the escalating rancor, this round to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia could be the prelude to a more consequential battle. The possibility of a second Supreme Court vacancy in the near future is subtly affecting the strategy of the Republican Trump team in the final stages of selecting a candidate and of Democratic opponents girding for what could be years of political turmoil surrounding the composition of America’s highest court.
Scalia, who died last February, was a rigid conservative on social issues so Trump’s replacement would likely be a wash. But a Trump successor to either of the two eldest justices — liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who will turn 84 in March, or centrist-conservative Anthony Kennedy, turning 81 in July — could truly transform the law in America.
How the Fate of Unions Fell Into The Hands of a Single Man
In Commonwealth v. Hunt, (1842), an American legal case in which the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the common-law doctrine of criminal conspiracy did not apply to labor unions. Until then, workers’ attempts to establish closed shops had been subject to prosecution. Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw asserted, however, that trade unions were legal and that they had the right to strike or take other steps of peaceful coercion to raise wages and ban nonunion workers.
The case stemmed from a demand by the Boston Journeymen Bootmakers’ Society that an employer fire one of its members who had disobeyed the society’s rules. The employer, fearing a strike, complied, but the dismissed employee complained to the district attorney, who then drew an indictment charging the society with conspiracy. The Boston Municipal Court found the union guilty.
Justice Shaw, hearing the case on appeal, altered the traditional criteria for conspiracy by holding that the mere act of combining for some purpose was not illegal. Only those combinations intended “to accomplish some criminal or unlawful purpose, or to accomplish some purpose, not in itself criminal or unlawful, by criminal or unlawful means” could be prosecuted.
Shaw, in effect, legalized the American labor union movement by this decision.
Let’s hope that the inevitable Democratic show of force on the first nomination serves as a warning to Trump not to put up an uncompromising conservative for a more consequential opening.
President-elect Donald Trump had the most perfect New Year’s tweet. And by perfect, we mean perfectly awful. Say what you will, the man has an uncanny ability to compress his entire sick personality into a mere 140 characters.
“Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!” he tweeted.
It’s a little hard to celebrate the end of 2016, a truly awful year, when in 20 days, this petty, vindictive man with the maturity and impulse control of a five-year-old and the ossified views of a dinosaur will be president. Though you may be cowering under your bed in dread at the idea, we thought we’d take you on a little stroll to recap of some of the horrors and absurdities the right wing visited upon us during the year that was.
1. Donald Trump staged a year-long assault on the truth.
Donald Trump lies all the time. He lies malignantly, and he lies ridiculously. His entire political career is founded on the birther lie, which he still brags about. He ran his campaign on lies about black crime, dangerous immigrants and non-existent jobs, more or less defrauding the American people the same way he defrauded the students of Trump University. In some cases, the lies he told were so demonstrably false that they were almost funny. Almost.
“There is no drought,” Donald Trump told Californians while campaigning in the drought-stricken state last May.
If there is a water problem, he continued, it’s because someone closed the water, so Trump is going to open it.
“If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive,” Trump said.
It’s just so crazy to say this. Arguably, it’s one thing to deny climate change, which is a bit complicated and requires scientists to explain it. But droughts? Not to mention air pollution. Dude, we can see those.
Another bizarre lie in the final days of the campaign was a depiction of how President Obama dealt with a protester at a Clinton campaign rally.
“He was talking to the protester, screaming at him, really screaming at him,” Trump told his insanely gullible crowd in Tampa, Florida.
“By the way, if I spoke the way Obama spoke to that protester, they [the mean old media] would say, he became unhinged! He spent so much time screaming at this protester and frankly, it was a disgrace.”
This was, in fact, the very opposite of what happened. In what was televised for all to see, President Obama urged the slightly rowdy crowd to take it easy on the protester, who was older and appeared to be a veteran.
So this was not just a lie, it was a masterpiece of projection. For Donald Trump is the one who consistently endangered protesters at his rallies by inciting his supporters to rough them up and worse.
The persistence and outrageousness of Trump’s many lies can be attributed the sobering reality that the Trump era helped usher in the post-truth world we now find ourselves living in. The tweeter-in-chief spreads conspiracy theories, spins minor victories into major coups and occasionally in an unguarded moment spews some accidental truth about how he can’t believe so many people actually believe anything he says.
But still, you’re not supposed to just come out and say that truth and facts don’t matter.
CNN Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes confirmed all of our worst fears after the election when she said, “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts,” on the Diane Rehm Show on WAMU, an NPR affiliate.
She was explaining the truth according to Trump to her fellow aghast panelists when it comes to Trump’s claim that “millions of fraudulent voters” gave Hillary Clinton her 2.8 million popular vote victory.
Here is what Hughes purported to be her logic:
“Mr. Trump’s tweets amongst a certain crowd, a large—a large part of the population, are truth. When he says that millions of people illegally voted, he has some, in his, amongst him and his supporters, and people believe they have facts to back that up. Those that do not like Mr. Trump, they say that those are lies, and there’s no facts to back it up.”
That is seriously scary. We have a president and his minions who now believe truth is what he says it is.
Trump’s videotaped assertions that he could grab women by the genitals because he is famous threw some of his surrogates into disarray, though not all. And a few of them performed some of the more hilarious contortions seen on the campaign trail to deflect attention from the damaging revelations.
One was Newt Gingrich who reinforced his already creepy image by conflating sex and sexual assault in a dustup with Megyn Kelly in October. While she pressed for answers and expressed concerns for women’s safety, Gingrich countered with the accusation that Kelly is “fascinated with sex,” because she kept talking about it.
Funnier still was Betsy McCaughey, the former Lieutenant Governor or New York, whose nutjob takedown of Obamacare invented the concept of death panels. She argued that if you like Beyoncé’s music, you can’t complain about sexual assault. Like other right-wingers, she seemed to think the problem with the leaked video was Trump’s foul language, rather than the whole rapey/consent thing.
Hillary Clinton, a fan of Beyoncé, likes bad words more than Donald Trump, McCaughey argued, before whipping out and performing the lyrics to “Formation.”
“‘I came to slay, bitch. When he f-ed me good I take his ass to Red Lobster.’ That happens to be from Beyoncé, her favorite performer,” McCaughey said of Clinton. “Whom she says she idolizes and would like to imitate. There’s a lot of hypocrisy, in Hillary Clinton expressing such horror at language on the bus.”
McCaughey was triumphant. She really scored there.
Later, after several women accused Trump of sexually assault, McCaughey called their accusations an example of “man-shaming” and suggested the women should not be believed.
“With all due respect, that was the same thing that the folks over at Bill Cosby’s camp said,” CNN Don Lemon pointed out.
“Well, and sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong,” McCaughey countered.
In October, Ted Cruz, who for some reason had forgotten that everyone including his own party detests him, floated an idea about the Supreme Court. Maybe, if Hillary Clinton were to win the presidency, Senate Republicans really would just take all of their toys and go home and stonewall on any Supreme Court appointment she attempted to make. So there.
“There is long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices,” Cruz lied at a campaign event. “Just recently Justice [Stephen] Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job, that’s a debate that we are going to have.”
Cruz’s threat did not quite pack the punch of fellow tea partier Joe Walsh’s threat to “grab a musket” if the election did not go Trump’s way, but was more in Cruz’s trademark mealy-mouthed and thoroughly dishonest style.
For starters, there is no long history of that, and secondly, Breyer did not say that. The Senate’s inaction on Supreme Court appointees has severely affected the high court’s ability to do its job. Deadlocking on cases involving immigration and unions and other vital issues means the court is literally failing to do its job, which is to decide things.
The Supreme Court is only the best known example of the harm GOP stonewalling has done to the judiciary. Republicans have confirmed only 18 of Obama’s federal court nominees, and created a “judicial emergency,” which is a term for when courts are so back-logged and caseloads are so high that Americans’ access to justice is endangered.
Cruz knows about this judicial emergency and has gleefully propagated it. Unlike his idiotic fellow traveler John McCain, whom Cruz was echoing. Cruz is a lawyer and touts himself as a constitutionalist, but for some reason it’s okay for him to ignore the part of the U.S. Constitution that gives the power of appointing justices to the current president of the United States.
Cut to present and Cruz’s name has sickeningly been floated for a Trump appointment to the Supreme Court, while Cruz accused the Democrats of threatening to be the most obstructionist party in history.
Ha! One hopes.
5. Melania Trump’s barely hidden misogyny revealed itself in an interview with Anderson Cooper.
At first glance, Melania Trump did a good job of seeming like a decent and sane person in her softball interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper in October. She reported that her husband had apologized to her about bragging he sexually assaults women, and that she accepted his apology. But she pointed out, it was not his fault. Billy Bush made him do it. Donald is, she acknowledged, a big kid, barely more mature than their 11-year-old, Barron.
But her mixed messages about her husband’s level of maturity were only part of the problem. On closer inspection, there was quite a bit of misogyny lurking behind her words, and viewing women as the real predators seems pretty firmly ensconced in her worldview. Since boys will of course be endearing if potty-mouthed boys, Melania blamed the manipulative women who are always hitting on her husband, sometimes right in front of her, throwing themselves at him. This was in the context of talking about sexual assault allegations, so the unmistakable conclusion was that she was implying some women are asking for it.
As for Natasha Stoynoff, the People magazine writer who said Trump forcibly kissed her at Mar-a Lago, the most important thing Melania wanted to convey was that she was never friends with Stoynoff and would not recognize her on Fifth Avenue, despite the fact that Stoynoff attended the Trumps’ wedding. (And the most important thing Mr. Trump would have you know is that Stoynoff is not his idea of attractive enough for him to sexually assault. Stoynoff has recently confirmed that knowing Trump would attack her looks did give her pause before going public with her ordeal. How many more?)
6. Rudy ‘9/11’ Giuliani conveniently forgot when 9/11 happened.
In September, self-proclaimed September 11 hero mayor Rudy Giuliani managed to forget when 9/11 happened so that he could make the laughably false statement that there were no terrorist incidents before President Obama took office. Around the same time he made that brain fart, and right after the first debate in which Trump tanked badly, Rudy posted a banner week sucking up Trump’s fumes. Here were some of the lowlights:
Immediately following the debate, Giuliani was the first to float the idea that Trump should skip the rest of the debates. Why? Because Trump blew it so badly, and his gnat-like attention span prevents him from actually preparing? No, because it was rigged! Lester Holt was so unfair when he corrected Trump a few times on his lies! (Especially when Holt pointed out to Trump that the police practice he and Giuliani so love, stop-and-frisk, is unconstitutional and racist.)
Later in the week, Giuliani joined the fray in criticizing Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs, because that’s just extremely relevant to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and Giuliani has always been an exemplary husband and father. Because he cares so much about women and children, Giuliani helpfully pointed out how “stupid” Hillary is to have stayed with Bill. In the same dizzying spew, Giuliani called Trump a “feminist” for hiring women (even if he fat-shames them and fires them for not being attractive enough). He also claimed Bill Clinton “violated” Monica Lewinsky, and as a former prosecutor, isn’t he supposed to know that’s not the case?
By the end of the week, Giuliani decided it was appropriate to make racist, anti-immigrant remarks and insult Mexicans working in the kitchen at the Waldorf Astoria during a black-tie event there, even managing to offend the various business leaders assembled. Red-faced, the head of the Commercial Finance Association, obviously a left-wing organization, was forced to issue a formal apology to attendees.
Diagnosis: The bile has finally eaten all the way through Giuliani’s brain.
7. Britt Hume idiotically whined about how he’s not even allowed to say Hillary Clinton is shrill and needs to smile more.
Hume, Fox News’ so-called reasonable one, gave the following critique after Hillary Clinton’s Democratic convention speech: “She has a habit, when speaking, of breaking into a kind of a sharp, lecturing tone, [it] makes you feel like. She has a great asset, as a public person, which is a radiant smile, but she has a not-so-attractive voice.”
Now, technically, he did not actually use the word “shrill” having somehow gotten the message that that word is not very well-disguised sexism. A few weeks later, Hume and Tucker Carlson were having a little chat about what they can and cannot say about Hillary Clinton. It’s so frustrating being a white male these days. Everybody’s always picking on you, trying to take away the privileges to which you’ve become accustomed.
They were discussing the outrage of Clinton not smiling enough while she was talking to the families of dead soldiers during the “Commander-in-Chief” forum. Carlson said he admires Clinton’s toughness (ha! no), but thinks she undercuts that when she mentions the sexism in the media’s coverage of her. How so? Not sure.
But poor Hume just doesn’t even know what he can say anymore, everything has become so unfair.
“You know at the Democratic convention, I was on after her speech, and it struck me that she did some things effectively in that speech, particularly her critique of Donald Trump,” Hume said. “But she seemed—and she has at other times in the campaign—to be kind of angry and joyless, and yes, unsmiling. I said that on the air, and I really caught it on Twitter from people who said, ‘You’re just a sexist, I can’t believe somebody’s saying that.’ But it raises this question, Tucker, in America today, is it possible for a woman to be shrill, and if so, or joyless, or unsmiling, is it possible for somebody to say that without ending up in jail?”
The dreadful persecution of Hume and other men who wish to call women shrill with impunity continues.
8. Pond scum emerges, says vile scummy things, gets book contract.
If there is a more despicable piece of shower mold than Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos, we do not know it.
In a mediascape that normalized Trump’s demagogic drunk uncle act and legitimized him into the presidency, this other creature from a hateful lagoon was granted a hearing on ABC “Nightline” with Terry Moran.
Yiannopoulos has been banned from Twitter for leading a harassment campaign against the comedian Leslie Jones, something he is apparently proud of.
“I like to think of myself as a virtuous troll,” Yiannopoulos bizarrely self-aggrandized in the interview.
We like to think of him with a stake driven through his tongue, but hey, we like to think lots of things.
Moran thought maybe he could pull some decency out of this cockroach, and asked if Yiannopoulos would tell Jones “she looks like a dude” in person.
Moran again tried to reason with the moron. “You’re going to go after somebody’s body to denigrate their ideas? What grade are you in? Seriously. Are you a 13-year-old boy? Because somebody doesn’t have a weight that you think is proper? That’s revolting.”
Revolting is a word Yiannopoulos can relate to.
“I’ll tell you what’s revolting,” Yiannopoulos responded. “What’s revolting is the body positivity movement. What’s revolting is this idea now that you can tell women that they’ll be healthy at any size.”
And now, having discussed this vile piece of bellybutton lint, we need to go take a bath.
9. Trump sons went from comparing refugees to Skittles to just making sh*t up.
It was Donald Trump, Jr. who compared refugees to Skittles, prompting the candymaker to distance itself from the Trump campaign (as Tic Tac later did). But it was son Eric who made up the absurd original lie of his father’s sh*tshow of a campaign in the fall. He swore it was not President Obama’s Kenyan birth or his secret status as a Muslim Manchurian candidate, it was a Christmas story. Who doesn’t love a Christmas story?
During an interview, Eric said Trump entered the political sphere because the Obama/Grinches stole Chistmas. “He sees the tree on the White House lawn has been renamed Holiday tree instead of Christmas tree. I could go on and on for hours. Those are the very things that made my father run, and those are the very things he cares about.”
One teeny tiny leetle problem. It’s not true. As in has no basis in reality. Didn’t happen. Throughout the Obama administration, the White House Christmas Tree has been called the “White House Christmas Tree.” It’s not even the “White House Xmas Tree.”
So this is a made-up story, a myth, a manufactured crisis, and all part of the nonexistent war on Christmas that isn’t being waged anywhere.
Eric also pointed out other pseudo outrages galvanizing his father’s run.
“He opens the paper and some new school district has just eliminated the ability for its students to say the Pledge of Allegiance, or some fire department in some town is ordered by the mayor to no longer fly the American flag on the back of a fire truck,” Eric Trump told the Stream’s James Robinson.
There are just a few things wrong with this statement. Chiefly, Donald Trump doesn’t open a paper. He opens his Twitter feed, Fox News or maybe Breitbart. Sometimes he glances at the National Enquirer, especially if “people are saying” there’s a good conspiracy theory about Ted Cruz’s father or Hillary Clinton’s health on the cover.
The Kool-Aid in the Trump household was clearly very strong.
10. Before Trump surrogate Carl Paladino said horrendously racist and hateful things about the Obamas, he said other horrible racist things.
Back in August, while Trump was attacking the Khan family for having an American war hero son while being Muslim, his pal and upstate New York school board official Carl Paladino went on “Imus in the Morning” to defend his right to do so. He started by making up stuff about Hillary Clinton.
“We’ve got an unindicted felon [he means Clinton] as his opponent and you’re talking about Khan, about [Trump] making a remark about this man? All right, I don’t care if he’s a Gold Star parent. He certainly doesn’t deserve that title, OK, if he’s as anti-American as he’s illustrated in his speeches and in his discussion. I mean, if he’s a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or supporting, you know, the ISIS-type of attitude against America, there’s no reason for Donald Trump to have to honor this man.”
It’s hard to be worse than Trump himself, but apparently manageable for some.
Keeping the level of discourse as high as possible, Paladino went on to insist that Obama is a Muslim and Hillary Clinton is “devious” for hiding her alleged health problems (that have been thorougly debunked).
“But if you’re really looking at what’s been exposed about Hillary and Hillary’s demeanor, I mean, just look at the deviousness. If it is true about her health problems, I mean, how devious can a woman possibly be? And not telling the American people that she’s got some sickness, she’s definitely impaired.”
Diagnosis: Paladino is morally impaired.
11. Bill O’Reilly instructed black people to hate Black Lives Matter.
In December Bill O’Reilly let his white aupremacist flag fly in a rant about opponents of the Electoral College.
But we shouldn’t let that despicable moment obscure another despicable moment back in July, when several police officers in Dallas were gunned down after a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration, which had nothing to do with the shooting.
O’Reilly took the opportunity to insist that everyone must hate and fear Black Lives Matter immediately. He and other Fox Newsians spent a good deal of their post-Dallas airtime whipping up as much hysteria and anger as possible against a group that has a name and a message no sane person can argue with. But sane people do not sit at Fox roundtables, as an episode of “Outnumbered” clearly shows. Meanwhile, colleagues Megyn Kelly and racist ex-cop Mark Fuhrman took it upon themselves to lecture black people to stop exaggerating problems with the police. You got that, Philando Castile, Eric Garner and Alton Sterling?
But O’Reilly is just so sick and tired of black people not listening to him when he tells them what is good for them. Speaking to his guest, NAACP director Hilary Shelton, O’Reilly said, “So, you know what I think? I think that if you really want, if African Americans really want to bring the country together and have good racial relations, they have to distance themselves from Black Lives Matter. Am I wrong?”
Yeah, you’re wrong, Shelton said, explaining that the Black Lives Matter marches are occurring for a very good reason. And lots of people understand that.
But white people ha-a-a-te Black Lives Matter, O’Reilly whined, mistaking the echo chamber in his head for reality once again. “White Americans despise this crew. And if black Americans don’t understand that, we’re just going to grow further apart.”
Shelton carried on saying reasonable things that were in the spirit of bringing people together, among other things pointing out that people of all races join Black Lives Matter marches and believe in the movement and in justice for all Americans.
All on deaf ears. O’Reilly was just too busy breaking the douchebag-o-meter.
12. Fox Newsians said—with straight faces—that asking Trump for his tax return was discrimination against rich people.
No, seriously, Kimberly Guilfoyle really did say this. She and her co-hosts from “The Five” were discussing this terrible miscarriage of justice—the fact that Mitt Romney suggested there might be a bombshell in Donald Trump’s unreleased tax returns, and that now everyone is all over his case to release them. The Donald had up with various reasons not to produce them, including the hilarious statement that the IRS picks on him because he’s such a strong Christian. One suspects the real secret the Donald is hiding is that he is not nearly as wealthy as he makes himself out to be, which is the only revelation in the universe that could bring the shameless reality star the remotest sense of shame.
But Guilfoyle and equally idiotic Eric Bolling just thought it was so mean—so, so rude—to ask the Donald to produce his tax returns. Co-host Dana Perino tried to explain that the office of the presidency is that of a public servant, not the gold-plated throne from which to order decrees that Trump imagines it to be, and pointed out that although taxes are “complicated for [insert the word rich] people,” they would likely be an issue in the general election.
Juan Williams pointed out that Donald’s taxes are “relevant right now.”
Guilfoyle jumped all over that, whining, “What about discrimination, Juan?”
“Against rich people,” Guilfoyle said. “And one percenters. Nobody ever asks to see the poor—it’s so rude.”
President-elect Donald Trump selected D-List fast food CEO Andy Puzder to head up the Labor Department. AFL-CIO and other working family advocates condemned the appointment of Puzder, who runs Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.
Puzder’s nomination shows Trump is backing away from his promise to represent all working people.
Here are nine reasons why Puzder is not our friend:
1. Puzder made more money last year in one day ($17,192) than one of his full-time minimum wage workers makes in a year ($15,130).
2. Rather than paying managers overtime for time they have worked, Puzder says that paying them more would make them glorified crew members and would take away their “sense of ownership” and “prestige.” He continued: “For most businesses it will be just another added regulatory cost they must look to offset. For their employees, it will be another barrier to the middle class rather than a springboard.”
3. He is a member of the so-called Job Creators Network, “a group of CEOs that promotes a conservative business agenda and has ties to anti-union astroturf operative Richard Berman.” Puzder also co-authored a book called Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn’t Understand It, with a foreword by supply-side economist Arthur Laffer.
4. In reference to the Fight for $15 call to raise the minimum wage, Puzder said: “I think you’ll see a lot of restaurants closing. I don’t think that restaurants can operate profitably if they’re paying a $15 minimum wage. So I think you would see a devastating impact to the country.” Researchers have since found that in Seattle, the first city to increase its minimum wage toward $15 an hour, the wage hikes have helped low-wage workers, and have not led to “significant increases in business failure rates.”
5. He has expressed vehement opposition to a recent National Labor Relations Board decision that would make it harder for corporations to manipulate the system and avoid bargaining with employees over improvements in the workplace by hiring temporary workers or contract workers.
6. Puzder promotes the myth that minimum wage jobs are largely held by young people just entering the market. This myth is used to undercut attempts to raise the minimum wage by falsely suggesting that minimum wage workers are not primary breadwinners and lack experience.
7. He is pushing to replace human workers with machines, because machines are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”
8. Rather than paying working people a living wage, Puzder wants to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit so that the federal government takes responsibility off of employers for paying poverty-level wages. Judy Conti from the National Employment Law Project said: “It’s a form of corporate welfare. A full-time worker should not need the EITC. For private-sector employers who claim to be conservative to say that the answer is a federal subsidy for low-wage work that costs taxpayers’ money [rather than companies paying more] is pretty shocking and pretty transparently hypocritical.”
9. About the ads his company runs that have been widely criticized as misogynistic, Puzder said: “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”
The eight-year bromance between Barack Obama — who appointed the first chief technology officer for the US — and the tech industry is ending. Now what?
That’s the question the tech industry has been asking since a real-estate mogul turned reality star, with a spotty reputation with tech, was voted in as 45th president of the United States.
President Obama, a self-proclaimed geek and Trekkie, was the most tech-focused president in modern history, committing billions of dollars to support initiatives to spur tech innovation, improve education and encourage exploration and discovery. Unlike Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump said very little during the campaign about where he stands on most tech-related issues — though he did call for a boycott of Apple products over the company’s stance on privacy in its fight with the FBI
One thing is clear. Silicon Valley in general isn’t excited about the next four years. In July, 150 tech leaders, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Vint Cerf, considered the “father of the Internet,” wrote an open letter calling a Trump presidency “a disaster for innovation.” Some in the industry, notably broadband service providers, criticized him for policies they believe would stifle investment in infrastructure.
The outlook is “beyond grim,” weighted down by fear that the industry and world would suffer from this election, the New York Times reported Thursday.
Since Trump, 70, didn’t say all that much about tech during the campaign (he did call out “the cyber” when talking about cybersecurity concerns during one debate), industry watchers are left reading whatever tea leaves they can find until the president-elect reveals more-definitive policies.
Given that the tech industry accounts for 12 percent of all jobs, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and given Trump’s message about improving America’s economy and competitiveness, his technology policies will have a long-lasting impact.
“The onus is on him to convince us that what we have seen in the past, the erratic behavior that has been defining character of the campaign, is not what will lead policy and that we’ll see a more pragmatic approach,” said Evan Swarztrauber, communications director for the DC-based think tank TechFreedom.
Here’s what little we do know about Trump’s stand on some important tech issues.
Net neutrality became a relatively big deal in the 2008 election, but little was said during this election cycle about last year’s policy.
Net neutrality is the idea that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally. This means your broadband provider, which controls your access to the internet, can’t block or slow down the services or applications you use over the web.
That said, we do know Trump isn’t a fan of the FCC’s current regulations. In 2014, at the height of the debate to rewrite the rules around Net neutrality, he tweeted, “Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.”
It’s possible that an FCC led by Republicans could eliminate all or part of the rules and strip the FCC of some of its authority. If that happens, broadband providers could create so-called fast lanes and charge internet companies, like Netflix, different rates to deliver their services.
Loosening regulations around telecom will likely benefit broadband and wireless carriers. The NCTA, the Internet and Television Association, which lobbies for the cable industry, said it’s eager to work with President-elect Trump.
“We look forward to participating in a constructive and robust discussion about policies that will continue to make America a global technology and entertainment leader,” they said in a statement Wednesday.
Industry Consolidation and Broadband
Trump also seems to have taken a populist view against mergers and acquisitions. That could spell trouble for big pending mergers, including AT&T’s $85 billion takeover of entertainment giant Time Warner. When that deal was announced last month, Trump vowed to block the merger if he was elected.
“As an example of the power structure I’m fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” he said.
AT&T’s executives still like their chances of getting the deal approved by the US, pointing to statements Trump made in his victory speech about investing in “infrastructure.”
“His policies and his discussions about infrastructure investment, economic development and American innovation all fit right in with AT&T’s goals,” Chief Financial Officer John J. Stephens said Wednesday. “We’ve been the leading investor in this country for more than five years running, and our Time Warner transaction is all about innovation and economic development, consumer choice, and investment in infrastructure with regard to providing a great 5G mobile broadband experience.”
Encryption and Cybersecurity
The president-elect has made only vague statements about privacy and security, and downplayed Russia’s alleged hacking into the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign email servers. Still, when the Justice Department tussled with Apple over unlocking the iPhone of the terrorist suspect in the San Bernardino shooting, he called for a boycott of Apple products.
What he has said about cyber security is that there should be a review of US cyber defenses by a “Cyber Review Team.” He also told the The New York Times in July that “certainly cyber has to be in our thought process, very strongly in our thought process… Inconceivable the power of cyber… you can make countries nonfunctioning with a strong use of cyber.”
The biggest boost to the tech industry could come from Trump’s plans to lower corporate tax rates to encourage companies to invest their money in the US.
There’s a good chance that money could be invested in the US, said Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF). But it’s not a given. In 2004, the US allowed American companies to bring in the profit they’d earned overseas in the hope they would hire more workers. Most of the money went to executives and shareholders, instead.
Trump has also called for high import taxes on products, which could drive up prices for consumers on tech goods. In January, Trump said in a stump speech, “We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries.”
Apple, which declined to comment on Trump’s statements at the time, designs its products at its Silicon Valley headquarters, but uses a Chinese contractor to build them. If Apple products were manufactured in the US, the price of an iPhone could rise to as much as $900 to offset worker wages versus the $650 cost of an iPhone today.
A review of Trump’s projects reveals that he hires union when project labor agreements or dominant market share forces him to. But more than 60% of his projects developed outside New York City and Atlantic City – which includes most of his recent projects – were built nonunion. When you exclude developments with project labor agreements, that number jumps to nearly 80% built nonunion.
Except for his own house.
Trump has developed or licensed his name to eight projects in Florida, for example. The only one using IBEW workers is his palatial home and private club in Palm Beach. “For everything he sold to other people, he went nonunion. But for his house, he went with us,” said IBEW Local 728 Business Manager Dan Svetlick. Svetlick says it’s something he’s seen with other billionaires like Trump. When it comes to their own homes or the homes of their family members, “They want that to last,” he said.
Here are 10 other key facts from the IBEW report:
1. According to analysis of lawsuits filed against him and his companies, when union contractors were hired, Trump developed a reputation for stiffing some, delaying payment to others and shorting workers on overtime and even minimum wage.
2. USA Today found 60 lawsuits against Trump for not paying his bills on time, including by a dishwasher in Florida, a New Jersey glass company, a carpet supplier, plumber, painters, 48 waiters, dozens of bartenders and a real estate broker.
3. Trump has been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
4. Trump-associated properties and companies have filed for bankruptcy often: Trump Taj Mahal (1991), Trump Plaza and Trump Marina (1993), Trump World’s Fair and Casino (1999), Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (2004) and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009). In each of the bankruptcies, unpaid contractors were sent to the back of the line for repayment and often received only pennies on the dollar for what they were owed.
5. Lawyers who represented Trump in lawsuits for non-payment sued Trump for not paying them.
6. Since 1980, more than 200 mechanic’s liens have been filed against Trump properties for nonpayment.
7. According to former Trump Plaza President Jack O’Connell, Trump would negotiate the best price he could, but when it came time to pay the bills, Trump would say: “I’m going to pay you, but I’m going to pay you 75% of what we agreed to.” It was known as the “Trump discount,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
8. Trump continues to stonewall unionized casino and culinary employees looking for their first contract at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.
9. Most of Trump’s recent projects have been in anti-union and “right to work” states. Where the law is different, his choices are different: “For every union-built development outside of New York and Atlantic City, Trump built nearly two nonunion, and if there is no PLA, Trump has hired union workers once for every four projects that go nonunion.”
10. Trump Tower, where he announced his presidential campaign, was built on a site cleared by undocumented immigrant laborers from Poland. A lawsuit was filed against Trump that dragged on for nearly two decades—he didn’t reach a settlement with the working people who did the job until 19 years later. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote: “No records were kept, no Social Security or other taxes were withheld, and they were not paid in accordance with wage laws. They were told they would be paid $4.00 or in some cases $5.00 an hour for working 12-hour shifts seven days a week. In fact, they were paid irregularly and incompletely, sometimes with [the subcontractor’s] personal checks, which were returned by the bank for insufficient funds.” Employees complained to the press of working in “choking clouds of asbestos dust without protective equipment.” The District Court concluded that Trump “knew the Polish workers were working ‘off the books,’ that they were doing demolition work, that they were nonunion, that they were paid substandard wages with no overtime pay and that they were paid irregularly if at all.”
Funding the government is one of the basic requirements of Congress. But as we too often see, the process consistently takes far longer than originally scheduled. The threat of shutting down the government and halting vital public services can spark a near panic.
Worsening this problem are “riders,” which are controversial, last-second provisions added to spending bills. Riders are provisions that would normally not pass on their own through the regular legislative process. The people who slip them into bills try to take advantage of the chaos of trying to pass a budget at the last minute.
Budget “riders” would help corporations, not working men and women.
In recent budget cycles, the Republican-controlled House and Senate have catered to big corporations by attempting to use riders to push through changes that would harm working families. The rider process allows them to avoid the public scrutiny that would ordinarily accompany these types of anti-worker policies.
These riders would do things like:
prevent the National Labor Relations Board from enforcing their own rules for free and fair union elections;
prohibit the enforcement of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, which would make contractors with serious records of civil rights, labor rights, safety or other violations comply with the law before being awarded a federal contract;
take away the DOL’s ability to make sure contractors pay the established minimum wage to certain seasonal recreation services employees;
stop the Department of Health and Human Services from instituting new prevention programs established by the Affordable Care Act – and eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Fair union elections, safe workplaces, minimum wage enforcement and protecting the Affordable Care Act—these are issues that affect working people directly. And underhanded attempts to take away these things using riders cannot be tolerated.
The battle over the fiscal year 2017 budget is now fully underway in Congress, and we’re seeing these same tactics again. Let Congress know that we are watching them, and that you want a clean budget – one WITHOUT riders that would harm working people.