While Trump was eating crow, we were eating crab

Jeff vonKaenel

While President Donald Trump was choking on his Nancy Pelosi-prepared crow diet, I was eating crab at the sold out annual Sac Central Labor Council Crab Feed, held February 8 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 67 on Stockton Boulevard.

Crab is a better meal than crow, especially crab when served with salad, bread, pasta and ice cream. This wonderful meal was served in large aluminum containers at each table by local Girl Scouts and Placer County Democrats to several hundred union workers, labor officials and politicians.

The event, a fundraiser for the Sacramento Central Labor Council, started at 5 p.m., which meant people dropped by after work without having to dress up. Delightfully, young and old people were talking to each other, instead of looking at their phones. On the concrete walls there were AFL-CIO posters with such slogans as “Cut Pharma Not Grandma,” “Don’t Cut Our Medicare Budget” and “Close Loopholes for Wall Street and the Rich.”

Many of the discussions around the tables focused on the new progressive Democrats in Congress. For progressives like myself, who believe that America’s future depends upon providing jobs with living wages and solving the ever-increasing problem of income inequality, the progressive House Democrats have been a breath of fresh air.

Instead of just opposing more tax cuts for the rich, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York proposes almost doubling the top income tax rate on the rich; Senator Bernie Sanders has an estate tax proposal; and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax might be the most impressive. Warren proposes a 2 percent tax on assets such as stocks, real estate and art for households worth more than $50 million. Her plan would raise $2.75 trillion over a decade from 75,000 households.

According to polling data, these ideas are extremely popular. Three out of four registered voters support higher taxes on the wealthy. And a Fox News poll last month found that a majority of Republicans support higher taxes on those making more than $10 million a year.

When an idea has the support of 75 percent of Americans, it could prevail, despite the millions—if not billions—of dollars that will be spent by the wealthy to preserve their wealth and power. But it will be a battle, a battle worth fighting.

This reminds me of the campaign to increase California’s minimum wage. At the crab feed, William Reed, local district vice president of the United Domestic Workers of America local that represents home-care providers, spoke about how many of his members have had a 50 percent wage increase from $8 an hour at the beginning of 2014 to $12 today because of the minimum wage hike. These people couldn’t make ends meet if the minimum wage was still $8 an hour.

The 99 percent need to come together. And we have a lot to learn from our union brothers and sisters. Organizing is done in person. Breaking bread, listening and talking—rather than tweeting and posting online—are the paths to understanding and consensus.

The new progressive Democratic agenda is really just a new version of the progressive union agenda. This message has the potential to excite and unite a wide coalition of progressive Democrats, minorities, environmentalists, young people and union members.

I am looking forward to the February 2021 crab dinner.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.