Tax Day — the due date for filing one’s tax returns — traditionally falls on April 15. This year, millions of Americans marked the event by taking to the streets in protest.
Some protesters held clever signs, some carried golden-haired inflatable chickens, while still others disguised themselves as “Chicken Don,” complete with yellow feathers and orange toupee. Their target, of course, was President Trump, and their message was unanimous and clear: Mr. President, show us your tax returns.
What Are Ya, Chicken?
Since the 1970s, it has been the norm for presidents to release their tax information. The general belief is that this is the only way to be fully open about potential conflicts of interest. Trump, billionaire-tycoon-turned-president, has yet to follow this custom. Though Trump claimed no one cares about seeing his tax returns, this is simply not the case.
According to an ABC News/ Washington Post Poll, 74 percent of Americans say they want his tax information released, while a different poll found that even 66 percent of Republicans want to know how much Trump pays in taxes (if he is paying anything at all).
And while inflatable Trump roosters from Hong Kong held vigil on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol, President Trump himself was hard at work in Mar-A-Lago, slashing crucial programs of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and other worker-safety initiatives.
On top of Chicken Don’s tax-related shadiness, many Americans are finally starting to see this weekend’s cuts as further evidence that Big Business is influencing the Trump administration to no small degree. The implications are all too familiar: When corporations get their way, working-class Americans are left with the short end of the stick.
If Corporations Hold the Trump Card
OSHA is the federal agency that looks after protecting workers. It forms part of the Department of Labor, which is facing a 21 percent downsizing under Trump’s proposed budget cuts. If Congress approves the plan, the effects for American workers will be catastrophic. First of all, $2.5 Billion in funding would be lost.
Casualties would include a job-training program for low-income senior citizens, youth training centers, a program to train workers with disabilities, as well as grants that help train workers in more at-risk and even dangerous jobs.
What’s worse, it’s likely OSHA’s main objectives would also be affected, including the inspection of workplaces for hazards, investigating accusations of wage theft, and trying crooked bosses when they injure, endanger, or cheat their workers.
It’s easy to see why corporation owners – and their legions of lobbyists – would want to remove OSHA’s ability to perform these crucial functions. In a world where workers have fewer rights, CEOs make higher profits and pay less in recompense when they do something wrong. Fewer regulations mean workers are trained less, work longer hours in more dangerous situations, and receive smaller paychecks.
But, Wait, There’s More?
While Trump, per the request of Big Business, is dismantling OSHA, there is 1 agency that is facing even bigger cuts: The EPA. The EPA protects every American citizen by ensuring that we have clean air to breathe and safe water to drink. It uses research and science to fight pollution and the spread of toxic substances.
Furthermore, Trump’s choice of Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA is the equivalent of appointing a 5-year-old pyromaniac to lead the fire department. Pruitt denies climate change science and has close ties to the oil and gas industries. He wants to stifle the Toxic Substance Control Act (TCSA), a law designed to regulate the use of deadly materials like lead-based paint, radon, and asbestos. Pruitt even said that asbestos wasn’t dangerous and that he wouldn’t ban it.
To state the obvious: Asbestos, like lead and mercury, is an extremely harmful substance. For decades, scientists have known that asbestos kills people and that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Every year, thousands of people die because they were exposed to asbestos. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 1999 – 2014 nearly 63,000 deaths occurred because of asbestos.
Chicken Don: Where Is His Money? And Where Is His Allegiance?
The only people who stand to gain from the weakening of OSHA and the EPA are the very few individuals who hold stake in large corporations. While American citizens will become sicker, poorer, and less-protected, corporations will run away with fatter profits and enjoy less accountability.
Many of Trump’s proposed cuts were initially suggested by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a lobbyist group comprised of company heads. The Chamber has a long history of implementing policies that reward murder with big revenues; for example, the deregulation of the tobacco and asbestos industries.
The fact that Trump is adhering to the Chamber’s suggestions coupled with the fact that he is too chicken to release his tax returns both point to the same conclusion: Our President still has questionable ties with Big Business. He is promoting the interests of the corporations at the expense of the citizens he promised to serve and protect.
The President is supposed to be chosen by the people, for the people. While Mr. Trump was chosen by the people (or at least the electoral college), it’s clear he is not for the people. No—rather, Chicken Don is for the corporations.