Trump’s First Year: Did the Working-Class Benefit?

Donald Trump ran for president on a populist and inclusionary platform. As he campaigned across the country, he appealed to increasingly larger numbers of Americans who felt forgotten by the country’s policies and politicians. Despite the fact that he lost the popular vote by three million, there’s no doubt that he tapped into the visceral anger and disappointment of the working-class.

When he and his top aides detailed his proposed plans, they promised that more Americans would share in what’s been characterized as the American dream – stable and dependable incomes, high-quality health care and education, and the ability to improve one’s lot in life based on a system rooted in meritocracy.

One Year Later

One year later, many Americans are waking up to the brutal truth that promises aren’t contracts and that a president who has known a life exclusively as part of the 1% has not delivered for the populace.


Most Americans and politicians agree that the Affordable Care Act needed improvements. Even while the plan was being created, they knew it would be an iterative process. While Trump and the Republican Party were unsuccessful in passing a new comprehensive health care bill, they were successful in removing the linchpin of the personal mandate.

Americans are waking up to the brutal truth that promises aren’t contracts and a president who has known a life exclusively as part of the 1% has not delivered for the populace.”

This move was celebrated by many, though the ramifications are substantial and largely understood. Now that insurance is not required, we wait to see if healthy people will continue to buy insurance. The system needs those with relatively low health care costs to be in the system to offset those with higher health care costs. That’s the basic premise of the entire health insurance industry. The removal of a personal mandate also allows companies on the exchanges to leave at any time, potentially leaving many American scrambling to find coverage under another plan.


In the realm of education, we’ve seen remarkably few changes. Public education remains challenged and plagued by equity and equality issues with the education of our young people largely hinging on zip code luck-of-the-draw. It continues without a comprehensive strategy at the national level and without a focus on systemic problems begging to be addressed.

Tax Reform

Praised as a plan for the people, the Republican Party and President Trump are immensely proud of their new tax plan. The New York Times created an excellent interactive infographic to help you sort through the details. After answering a few simple questions, you are able to see how it impacts you. For a family with two children making $25K or less, filing either married or single, the tax plan will deliver an $80 tax cut. Without children, the tax savings is $0. By contrast, a family with two children making between $75K and $100K receives a tax cut of $2,450 if filing as married and $3,030 if filing as head of household.

What Comes Next for the Working-Class?

The State of the Union will air on Tuesday, January 30th. Will the President commit to fighting for policies that support working-class people? Will he recognize the glaring shortcomings of his first year in office to deliver on his initial campaign promise? And if he does, will those promises be supported with a strategy that his first year in office didn’t have? History and its data will be the judge and jury.

Photo: Matt Johnson

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