Trump stripping away safety nets for needy, elderly

In TGI’s Guest Opinion January 22nd, Gary Hooser shared that “the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has determined that for a single person without children the hourly wage needed to simply ‘subsist’ is approximately $17.50 per hour.” Here are a few other findings:

According to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2018, the latest release, the MEDIAN household income was $63,179, an increase over 2017 ($61,372). That computes to $30.26 per hour at 2,088 work hours per year. Hawaii’s minimum wage would require three full-time earners to reach that MEDIAN household income. Hawaii’s cost of living is the highest in the nation.

In March 2012 the Center for Economic and Policy Research released a study showing the minimum wage should have reached $21.72 an hour by then: “If the minimum wage had continued to move with average productivity after 1968, it would have reached $21.72 per hour in 2012 — a rate well above the average production-worker wage. If minimum-wage workers received only half of the productivity gains over the period, the federal minimum would be $15.34. Even if the minimum wage only grew at one-fourth the rate of productivity, in 2012 it would be set at $12.25.”

The Economic Policy Institute reiterated what we’ve been hearing for years: that the income from economic growth has gone to the top 1%, while the rank-and-file shares have declined. Thirty years ago “CEOs of large public companies made salaries 45 times as large as the pay median workers in their industries. By 2018, they made 278 times as much. (It is) unlikely this was driven entirely by CEOs’ own productivity.”

The National Labor Relations Board, under President Trump’s administration, has systematically rolled back worker protections and collective-bargaining rights, and betrayed its statutory obligation to administer and enforce the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRB even seeks to eliminate the right to a union for graduate student workers.

As American families struggle to keep heads above water, last month President Trump’s administration cut food stamps to 700,000 Americans. The loss of food stamps to families would end school-provided lunches to about 500.000 children.

Last week President Trump’s administration announced a rollback of the strict standards of the school-assisted nutrition programs serving nearly 30 million children at 99,000 schools. The standards of the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” were implemented in 2010 by the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, too many Americans will never be able to retire.

While at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, President Trump suggested last week that he would be willing to consider further cuts to entitlement and social safety-net programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security to reduce the federal deficit if he wins a second term, an apparent shift from his 2016 campaign promise to protect funding for such entitlements.

If this is published, I will be happy to provide links for further reading online.


Susan Oakley is a Kapaa resident.

  1. Rev Dr. Malama January 26, 2020 2:06 am Reply

    Under no circumstances should the IMPEACHED POTUS BE REELECTED!!!
    May the country unite in removing the protagonist from office ASAP!
    The world deserves so much better and needs stop being the laughingstock of the Russian’s design!!!

  2. Susan Oakley January 26, 2020 6:08 am Reply

    A few more facts…

    Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of enrollees in America’s major public support programs are members of working families. In a 2017 survey run by military spouses, called Blue Star Families, 7 percent of active-duty families said they faced food insecurity over the past year. Taken as a percentage of the overall active duty population, that would be more than 80,000 families nationwide.

    Links to sources for this article:

    U.S. Census Bureau data on median household income —

    Hawaiʻi’s cost of living —

    Minimum wage vs economic productivity —

    Economic growth and CEO salaries —

    NLRB and worker protections —

    NLRB and collective bargaining —

    NLRB and graduate student workers —

    Food stamps to 700,000 families cut —

    Half a million kids losing assisted lunches —

    Repealing standards for school lunches —

    Obama White House archives on “HEALTHY, HUNGER-FREE KIDS ACT OF 2010” —

    Older Americans unable to retire —

    Cuts to entitlement and safety-net programs —

    73 percent of recipients of public support programs are of working families —

    Over 80,000 active-duty military families suffered food insecurity in 2017 —

  3. Kurt Last January 26, 2020 6:21 am Reply

    You’re correct, of course, that Mr. Trump constantly changes his positions – including his positions on Social Security and Medicare. The primary reason that his promises are consistently broken is that he’s a lifelong pathological liar, who is unable to be truthful about any subject, ever. Combined with the fact that Trump is a weak, cowardly, reckless imbecile, and his shifting positions should not be a surprise to anyone. Trump’s trademark willful and prideful ignorance about almost any subject, has made him a worldwide laughingstock. Trump soils the White House and the presidency every single day with his presence.

  4. Worker January 26, 2020 8:38 am Reply

    The federal government does not need to solve all these problems. The Federal Government should Keep us safe from foreign threats, enable a robust economy, and let us keep our hard earned money. State and local governments can take up the rest of the problems.

  5. Paulo January 26, 2020 9:35 am Reply

    Darn good assessment of our wage problem. Not only can most of Kauai’s population be lumped into the category of the working poor, there seems to be nationwide refusal to accept that anyone working full time deserves a living wage.

    If it requires that we pay a little more for our goods and services right down to the price of fast food, then so be it. If on the corporate scale it means CEOs and upper management and take a hit in their monstrous pay, so be it.

    Due to low wages we have to help many workers with taxpayer assistance in the form of housing, food etc. which does what? It subsidizes the businesses paying less than they should.

    “Meanwhile, too many Americans will never be able to retire.” And when we have seniors with little to nothing for their nonworking years, who will be taxed to support them?

    In past decades when raising the national minimum wage has come up, it is immediately discarded by repubs who say it will be bad for the economy. As if hording huge sums by the wealth holders isn’t. They can’t spend it all and most of it does not stimulate our economy and sure doesn’t’ trickle down.

  6. Charlie Chimknee January 26, 2020 12:10 pm Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    This article written by Ms. Oakley, presents a lot of economic numbers and corresponding dates, few if any of which would specifically apply to current President Trump, much less him personally, just as we simply cannot place blame on current Kaua’i Mayor Kawakami for the past and present condition of the road to Polihale (see today’s article).

    As much as President Trump is a carroter, I mean character, unto himself, he certainly has not been responsible for wages outside his presidency and the current minimum wages, albeit a disaster for anywhere in the nation, small business itself struggles to pay even the minimum wage, and a $10 an hour wage…doesn’t that boil down to $7 an hour take home…yet our county, state, and federal taxes pay easily twice as much and way more than minimum to government workers.

    And if unemployment is down during Trump Time, haven’t millions been put back to work since Obama Times ? Thank you Trumpy Bear, and doesn’t that eliminate your gripe of 700,000 put off food stamps…? Isn’t it better to be employed than getting Food Stamps and living off the workers of our nation?

    And School Lunch Programs…shouldn’t employed parents be able to, expected to, afford a brown bag lunch for kids to carry to school? Have you ever seen how much food is thrown away by kids at every lunch…multiple times more than what it would take to feed the homeless and the needy on food stamps…seems like a competent FOOD COORDINATOR may be best in the interest of who needs food, because it certainly does not include fat kids tossing 1/2 their taxpayer paid lunches in the garbage.

    And whatever happened to the brown bag to school with peanut butter and jam on white bread lunch with sissy kids having the crust cut off…and an occasional boost of a non No-GMO, ORGANIC stamped, no pesticide or Glyphosate banana, or apple, or orange…?

    The school cafeteria back then had some 5 cent food items, but nobody went to School with 5 cents in their pocket…nobody…!

    Not gonna say anything about how many stupid people there are, I may be included, but why you think governments began hiring so many people, all voters, it’s to keep them from roaming the streets and let’s them out of the rain in their cozy offices.

    Ya heard of COLA, cost of living allowance…?

    Why not apply a Tax COLA, Hawaii citizens would then pay the lowest federal and state taxes in the nation.

    And when people figure out that Disease Care has no value $$$wise or Health Wise, and is just not wise at all, and quit wasting $4 Trillion dollars a year on doctor visits and drugs and surgery…instead relying for Health on daily free Health promoting activity from proper use of sun, water, air, rest, exercise, and food with nutrition, and no disease Causing chemicals added, or prescription drugs taken, causing sickly to deadly side effects (listen closely to TV drug ads), most people with health insurance either un-“free” or employer paid for…would have an extra $500 to $800 a month kept for themself and even more for their families. $800/month is about $10,000.00 extra income per year. Let’s call for COLA TAX RELIEF.

    Look at quasi government entities gone wild…our tiny Water Dept has $24 million in just pension reserves only, see the Garden Island article today. In the meantime a water meter for so called affordable housing is about $15,000 which does include all kinds of fees, but the meter itself is only some hundreds.

    Lots can be done, let’s look at the positive proactive side. Mr. Hull is apparently working for the people while he is working for the County and is being proactive with his seat on the Water Board. Mahalo to Ka’aina for being part of bringing the $24 million to our attention.

    1. Susan Oakley January 28, 2020 10:38 am Reply

      Aloha, Charlie Chimknee .. I didn’t choose the headline. As I noted in my comments above with sources of data, nearly 75% of folks on public assistance are the working poor. 80,000 active-duty military families faced food insecurity over the last year. For this administration to cut assistance to the less fortunate is unconscionable while the rich get richer. Donald Trump, Charlie Chimknee, Susan Oakley could have been born into those disadvantaged families.

      I still chuckle at your comment from a few years ago that Mexico would respond to the US building a 12-foot wall by building 13-foot ladders… one of my favorites!

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