Today’s News and Commentary — January 4, 2017

Democratic representatives and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka shared a rare moment of unity with President Elect Trump during a press conference yesterday morning, in which they pledged to support Mr. Trump in revising NAFTA and other trade deals. During the conference, Trumka specifically called for tougher trade enforcement and the reworking of labor deals in NAFTA, while stating broadly that the entire agreement needs to be improved. Representatives also voiced their support for the President Elect officially putting an end to the TPP in his first 100 days. However, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), along with others, cautioned that they would not support any measures proposed by Trump that would be detrimental to the environment or the lives of U.S. workers.

The New York Times Editorial Board delivered a sharp critique of the “crony capitalism” occurring between the President Elect and the corporations that are helping him “lie” about his successes in creating and preserving American jobs. Most recently, Sprint and its parent company SoftBank have been helping Mr. Trump take credit for adding 5,000 new jobs that were actually pledged before the election. Softbank executives have every incentive to ingratiate themselves to Mr. Trump, because they are hoping that the regulators he appoints will permit a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. (Regulators appointed by President Obama effectively blocked the merger in 2014.) According to the Editorial Board, that merger would do lasting damage to the economy that would far outweigh the benefits of 5,000 jobs, and Mr. Trump’s failure to see the bigger economic picture should greatly worry Americans.

The Washington Post reports that federal agencies are scrambling to fill thousands of positions before the inauguration on January 20. According to OPM, the number of jobs posted in November and December of 2016 represented a 15% increase from the same period in 2015 (up more than 8,000 total postings). At the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, HR representatives were forced to cancel their year-end vacations to process offer letters and other paperwork for new hires. The President Elect has promised to freeze federal hiring and not replace employees who leave, “regardless of [agencies’] workload or workforce needs.”