Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Christian Science Monitor: New executive order to prioritize Americans over foreign workers, remarks from Robert Reich

President Trump has signed 64 executive orders. Today he signed number 65, “Buy American, Hire American,” which “directs federal agencies to recommend changes to a temporary visa program used to bring foreign workers to the United States to fill high-skilled jobs.” The executive order will also “seek changes in government procurement practices to increase the purchase of American products in federal contracts.”

Here is Robert Reich's view:

As he nears the 100-day benchmark of his presidency, Trump has done nothing for American workers. His demands that Carrier, General Motors, and Ford hire more people in the United States were media events. GM and Ford had planned to shift some jobs back before Trump’s arm-twisting. Carrier ended up sending most of its jobs to Mexico anyway. He hasn’t renegotiated NAFTA. He decided not to pressure China on currency manipulation.

Today, Trump continues the empty symbolism. He signs an executive order calling for reform of the H-1B visa system -- intended for foreign nationals in "specialty" occupations such as scientists, engineers and computer programmers. The government uses a lottery to award 65,000 of these visas every year.

High-tech companies want many more of these visas. But I used to administer the program, and found that high-tech firms often brought in foreign workers because they’d work for less pay. My betting is nothing will happen either way.

How long can Trump do nothing for American workers, when that was the centerpiece of his campaign?

This is the time for Democrats to propose real reforms. For example: (1) Make it easy for people who lose their jobs to get new ones that pay at least as well, through wage insurance; (2) expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and raise the minimum wage so every job pays a living wage; (3) invest in great teachers and great schools, along with a system of lifelong learning, and high-quality early childhood education; and (4) provide Medicare for all. And pay for all this with a 2 percent tax on wealth over $1 million, and a carbon tax.

But where are the Democrats?

New executive order to prioritize Americans over foreign workers

By Steve Holland