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AP

Donald Trump has talked far more about global trade's effect on jobs than about how jobs are being lost to automation, even though experts say the latter poses a serious threat to the nature of work in the coming years. Even has he stays quiet on the issue, some of Trump's key advisers are invested in automation:

  • His nominee to head the Labor Department favors automation in the restaurant industry, because machines are "always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case."
  • "There's something like 3 million American adults who depend on over-the-road trucks for their livelihood, and it's a pretty good livelihood," said Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross at his confirmation hearing. "And you also have the shorter trip drivers as well. So I think what we have to do is to figure out how to make sure to get the benefits of the improved technologies and yet cope with the dislocation that it inevitably will produce."
  • Several members of a group of CEOs advising Trump are invested heavily in self-driving cars and trucks, including GM's Mary Barra, Tesla's Elon Musk and Uber's Travis Kalanick.
  • Financial firms whose executives (or former employees) are advising Trump use automation. That includes J.P. Morgan Chase adding functions to its ATMs and Goldman Sachs' automation of some banking activities. Ernst and Young CEO Mark Weinberger, who is advising Trump, says the company will "make the most of new technologies — such as robotic-process automation, artificial intelligence and blockchain — that will bring huge changes to us all."
  • IBM's Ginni Rometty presides over a growing AI business that has applications in industries from education to healthcare.

The takeaway: Policymakers will have to contend with the fact that automation is already a fact of life in many sectors.

Why it matters: Washington has started to fret over automation's impact on employment in a whole range of sectors. "I think we have an immediate four- to eight-year problem that if we don't address it we could have some real chaos on our hands across the country," said former 21st Century Fox lobbyist Rick Lane during a panel discussion at a conference this week.

Why it doesn't matter: Some Trump voters have made it clear that they don't expect him to shield their jobs from the steady march of industry automation. "He'll do what he can to protect my job from automation, but in some cases you've got to go with the flow," forklift operator Mel Geschke told BuzzFeed News at a rally in December.

Go deeper

AP: Justice Dept. rescinds "zero tolerance" policy

A young girl waves to onlookers through the fence at the US-Mexico border wall at Friendship Park in San Ysidro, California in Nov. 2018. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden's acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued a memo on Tuesday to revoke the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which separated thousands of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, AP first reported.

Driving the news: A recent report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz emphasized the internal chaos at the agency over the implementation of the policy, which resulted in 545 parents separated from their children as of October 2020.

Biden picks up his pen to change the tone on racial equity

Vice President Harris looks on as President Biden signs executives orders related to his racial equity agenda. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden is making a down payment on racial equity in a series of executive orders dealing with everything from private prisons to housing discrimination, treatment of Asian Americans and relations with indigenous tribes.

The big picture: Police reform and voting rights legislation will take time to pass in Congress. But with the stroke of his pen, one week into the job Biden is taking steps within his power as he seeks to change the tone on racial justice from former President Trump.

Most Senate Republicans join Rand Paul effort to dismiss Trump's 2nd impeachment trial

Photo: Joshua Roberts-Pool/Getty Images

Forty-five Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, supported an effort to dismiss former President Trump's second impeachment trial.

Why it matters: The vote serves as a precursor to how senators will approach next month's impeachment trial, making it highly unlikely the Senate will vote to convict. The House impeached Trump for a second time for "incitement of insurrection" following events from Jan 6. when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.