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Ending state, local aid negotiations shows depth of Trump’s ‘callousness and cruelty’

President Donald Trump (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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By AFSCME Staff ·

AFSCME President Lee Saunders blasted President Donald Trump for abruptly ending negotiations on a COVID-19 relief package that is meant to help states, cities, towns and schools provide vital services and retain millions of public service workers who provide them.

In a statement Tuesday, Saunders said, “President Trump has shown the true measure of his callousness and cruelty today. He simply does not care about the lives or livelihoods of anyone outside his family or his rich donor base.”

That is, Trump has forgotten the forgotten men and women he promised to help soon after winning the election in 2016.

“He has no interest in helping the millions upon millions of working families whose lives have been shattered by this public health and economic crisis – who have lost their jobs, who are struggling to make rent, feed their children and keep the lights on,” Saunders noted. “He is content to gut the public services that sustain and strengthen every community across the country.”

In contrast, former Vice President Joe Biden, the AFSCME-endorsed Democratic presidential challenger, supports providing federal aid to states and localities.

Trump’s reckless decision to walk away from talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came hours after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell called for additional relief to lift up the economy, which has bled millions of jobs since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Since February, state and local governments have shed more than 1.2 million jobs as they struggle to cope with plummeting revenues.

The House approved the Heroes Act in May, which contains $1 trillion in aid to states, cities, towns and schools, and AFSCME’s “Fund the Front Lines” campaign has been a leader in building public support for such aid. Polls show overwhelming public support for such aid, and there have been a slew of bipartisan calls from prominent groups like the National Governors Association seeking such assistance.

Yet, the Senate – led by Mitch McConnell of Kentucky – has refused to provide direct aid to struggling states and localities. McConnell has even suggested states should declare bankruptcy. After expressing support for expanded state and local aid recently, Trump reversed course on Tuesday.

But you have the final say, not Trump.

“President Trump wants to keep rigging the economy in favor of the wealthy in order to crush working people,” Saunders said. “But he doesn’t have the last word. That belongs to voters on November 3.”

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