Shady senior Trump officials hid info to push their tip-stealing plan


The Trump administration is trying to make it easy for employers to steal wages from workers.

The Trump administration knew full well that its regulatory proposal to legalize tip pooling would result in widespread loss of wages, and hid the evidence.

Now, it turns out Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, signed off on the decision.

According to a new report from Bloomberg Law, "Mulvaney sided with Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta" to override Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, allowing the Labor Department "to delete from the proposal internal estimates showing businesses could take hundreds of millions in gratuities from their workers."

The allegations that the Labor Department covered up government statistics about tip-pooling, which suggested managers could pocket over $640 million in tips, have been under investigation by the Office of the Inspector General since early February.

"Tip pooling," or the redistribution of tips from workers like waiters or bartenders to non-tipped employees or management, steals wages from low-income workers who explicitly earned it. President Obama issued rules banning the practice in 2011, but the restaurant industry, together with Trump officials, has been fighting to throw out the regulation.

Indeed, the OIRA's estimate of $640 million in lost wages may be low. The Economic Policy Institute suggests the total amount diverted from tipped workers could be as high as $5.8 billion, with 80 percent of the money coming from women.

The proposal to bring back tip pooling has prompted a sharp rebuke from 17 state attorneys general, as well as from lawmakers like Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who demanded answers from Acosta on the practice at a House Ways and Means hearing.

It is clear that Mulvaney, like Acosta and indeed most of the Trump administration, has no interest in letting facts and objective analysis inform his policymaking, but rather the agenda of right wing special interests. And if the data does not fit, he is prepared to make it disappear.