Trump Shifts Labor Focus from Worker to Entrepreneurship.

Even by the standards of the Trump era, one of the more unusual departures from recent Washington practice came in June, in a case before the Supreme Court involving worker rights.  The Trump administration felt so strongly on the issue — that employers can force workers to forfeit their rights to bring class-action lawsuits — that it reversed the government’s position, something that has rarely happened in a pending case.

President Trump surrounded by small-business leaders in the Oval Office in January as he signed an executive order on reducing regulations. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

“What’s pretty unprecedented is that they came to a different conclusion in the Supreme Court case,” said M. Patricia Smith, the solicitor at the Labor Department under President Barack Obama. (A Justice Department spokesman said that every administration sometimes departs from the position of its predecessors in new Supreme Court cases.)

It is one of a series of actions that have reversed course on rights and protections for workers. The administration had proposed a 40 percent cut for the government agency that conducts research into workplace hazards, undone Obama-era guidances on enforcement of employment laws and sought to eliminate a roughly $10.5 million program that helps some unions and nonprofit organizations — whose efforts many business and free-market groups consider nettlesome — to educate workers on how to avoid injury and illness.

Championing the American worker was a central theme of Mr. Trump’s election campaign. He made inroads into the traditionally Democratic union vote, and echoed the words of labor leaders on themes like trade, infrastructure and offshoring jobs.

That a Republican administration would nonetheless pursue a business-friendly labor policy is not unexpected. But beyond partisan politics, its record on worker issues reflects a consistent Trump worldview: that entrepreneurship is the highest economic calling and the entrepreneur is the economic actor most deserving of respect.

Mr. Trump has framed his own career as an example of entrepreneurship’s risks and rewards, and has made entrepreneurship a key talking point as president. In nominating officials to serve in his cabinet, he has frequently highlighted their entrepreneurial accomplishments. He has praised a bill promoting women in entrepreneurship and predicted that “millions of people will be lifted out of poverty” thanks to a World Bank entrepreneurship initiative his administration supported.

“I’m very inspired to be in the company of such motivated entrepreneurs — people that I really respect, because I know what it takes; I’ve been there,” Mr. Trump said at a White House smallbusiness event in August.

Donald J. Trump in 2004 as one of his apartment projects went up in White Plains. He has framed his career as an example of entrepreneurship’s risks and rewards. Credit Susan Stava for The New York Times