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Public Services or Private Services? Trump’s Picks Favor Privatization All Around

by Clyde Weiss  |  January 05, 2017

The incoming Trump administration is primed to privatize America, putting at risk our retirement security, the health of our seniors, the safety of publicly-run prisons, the quality of public education and the integrity of other public services Americans depend on every day.

The nonprofit group In the Public Interest has identified 32 members of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet and transition team who either have close ties to for-profit companies and groups that support privatizing (outsourcing) public services, or have expressed support for privatization.

As the Nation reports, if these officials get their way “America’s schools, roads, air-traffic-control systems, prisons, immigrant-detention centers, and critical social-insurance programs will soon fall into private hands.”

“What privatization is all about, fundamentally, is a grab for the gold,” Donald Cohen, executive director of In the Public Interest, told AFSCME. “Government in America spends $6 to $7 trillion a year and they (privateers) want a piece of it. They want the gold and they want the power. The power gives them the ability to get the cash.”

The privatization advocates are supported by right-wing politicians “who … see the value of breaking unions, who are (labor’s) major opponents politically, and in terms of making government smaller,” Cohen said.

AFSCME is a staunch opponent of privatizing public services. Learn how it hurts wages, benefits, the economy and the stability of middle- and working-class families.

Here are a few of Trump’s picks who are big privatization advocates:

  • Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for education secretary, is an advocate of private charter schools. She wanted to divert public money from public schools to fund vouchers to attend for-profit charter schools, “and tried to strip teacher unions of their influence,” The New York Times reported. AFSCME opposes vouchers.

In addition, a for-profit prison company, the GEO Group, hired two aides to U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama – Trump’s pick for attorney general – as lobbyists after the Justice Department announced last year it would phase out the use of private contractors in federal prisons. A recent report by the Inspector General found that privately-run federal prisons have more safety and security problems compared to facilities run by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

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