Here's exactly how Donald Trump could hurt the middle class - and how to fight back

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President-elect Donald Trump has begun setting up his transition team — and between that and his proposed policies we are starting to get some clues as to how his first term might play out.

Trump's populist rhetoric helped him get elected: He has said hedge fund managers are "getting away with murder" and called Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a "Wall Street puppet.

But the composition of Trump's advisers and transition team — like hedge fund billionaire John Paulson, who made a killing shorting subprime mortgages ahead of the financial crisis, and David Malpass, former chief economist for Bear Stearns — suggest Trump is already singing a different tune about Wall Street now.

RELATED: Public outcry amid Trump's presidential election victory:

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Thousands protest Donald Trump across the nation
Demonstrators protest outside of City Hall following the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in downtown Los Angeles, California November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
SOUTH GATE, CA - NOVEMBER 10: Students in South Gate protest the election Donald Trump as president in front of City Hall. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 10: Protesters of President-elect Donald Trump march down the I-94 on November 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thousands of people across the country have taken to the streets in protest in the days following the election of Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Demonstrators gesture toward an approaching line of police officers as they stopped traffic on Interstate 580 during a demonstration following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, in Oakland, California, U.S. November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Thousands of anti-Trump protesters shut down 5th Avenue in front of Trump Tower as New Yorkers react to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States on November 9, 2016 in New York City. Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in an upset to become the 45th president.

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Protesters reach Trump Tower as they march against Republican president-elect Donald Trump in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Protestors hanging onto a signpost shout slogans on 5th Avenue across from Trump Tower on November 9, 2016 in New York, after Donald Trump was elected as the next president of the US.

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People march in protest to the election of Republican Donald Trump as the president of the United States in Seattle, Washington, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jason Redmond)

Office workers show their support for protesters marching along Sixth Avenue, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York, in opposition of Donald Trump's presidential election victory.

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The Empire State Building is seen in the background as demonstrators hold a sign during a march against President-elect Donald Trump in Manhattan, New York, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

Demonstrators protest on top of a bus outside of the Trump Tower November 9, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Thousands of people across the United States took to the streets in protest a day after Republican Donald Trump was elected president, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton.

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Remy joins protestors marching against Republican Donald Trump's victory in Tuesday's U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mark Makela)

People try to reach Trump Tower as they protest against Republican president-elect Donald Trump in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

A demonstrator wears a headpiece depicting the crown of the Statue of Liberty during a protest in San Francisco, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States November 9, 2016.

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Protesters burn an effigy of Donald Trump in Lee Circle before a march through New Orleans, La., November 9, 2016.

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Protestors rally against Donald Trump outside of Trump Tower, November 9, 2016 in New York City. Republican candidate Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election in the early hours of the morning in a widely unforeseen upset.

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People protest against Republican president-elect Donald Trump in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

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Demonstrators walk through Downtown San Diego in protest to the election of Republican Donald Trump as the president of the United States in San Diego, California, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker)

A woman chants from a window as demonstrators march on Market Street in San Francisco, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Stephen Lam)

People climb a pole on Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower during protests following President-elect Donald Trump's election victory in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

Security forces stand guard in front of the Trump Tower during a protest against President-elect Donald Trump of Republican Party in Chicago, United States on November 9, 2016.

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Protestors brandish a tattered US national flag during a demonstration on 5th Avenue across from Trump Tower on November 9, 2016 in New York, after Donald Trump was elected as the next president of the US.

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People take part in a protest against President-elect Donald Trump in New York City on November 9, 2016.

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A protester carries an upside down American flag as she walks along Sixth Avenue while demonstrating against President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in New York. Thousands of protesters around the country took to the streets Wednesday to condemn the election of Trump as president.

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Protesters burn a U.S. flag while they reach Trump Tower as they march against Republican president-elect Donald Trump in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

People take part in a protest against President-elect Donald Trump in New York City on November 9, 2016.

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"Trump ran an anti-establishment campaign focused on the economy," said Alexis Goldstein, a senior policy analyst for progressive nonprofit Americans for Financial Reform. "There was a huge focus on fighting for people who were left out. It's already a betrayal of his supporters to staff up his transition team with hedge fund managers."

But what should really worry the middle class goes far beyond Trump's new team: Here's how his key policies would hurt the middle class — including the white workers who helped drive his win.

Trump's tax plan gives the lion's share of benefits to the rich.

While Trump made his appeal to the working class, he built a tax plan that lavishes benefits on the rich — while potentially raising taxes for certain lower-income people and single parents.

"There was never any real backing for his argument that he was proposing populist tax reform," said Matthew Gardner, a senior fellow at nonpartisan nonprofit Institute of Policy and Taxation. "If you look at the two pretty similar tax plans he released as a candidate, they had two things in common: one is that they would each have sharply reduced tax revenues, the other is that they would give a disproportionate amount of the benefits to the top 1%."

As the tweet below, based on data from Citizens for Tax Justice, breaks down, if you look at exactly how much your tax burden is expected to change for different income groups, Trump's tax cuts pay a lot more if you're rich. The top 1% of American earners get 44% of the total money.

Conservatives argue tax cuts jump-start the economy, Gardner said, by putting cash in the hands of job creators. This line of thinking is called "supply-side" or "trickle-down" economics.

The problem? Data show that regressively giving wealthier people more money can actually slow economic growth — and progressively giving poorer people more cash increases growth.

"The single most effective way of using tax policy to induce economic behavior is to give tax cuts to low income people who spend it," Gardner said.

Trump could cut government programs that help people — like Medicaid.

Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, characterized Trump's overall tax plan as "absolutely regressive."

What's more, these plans are expensive: The center estimates Trump's plan could cost up to $6.2 trillion over the next 10 years, and it's not immediately clear how these losses of revenue are going to be paid for.

"Trump has excluded large chunks of the budget from any spending cuts," Gleckman said, pointing to Social Security and defense as two examples. That suggests "the biggest target is going to be Medicaid."

Cuts to Medicaid would be devastating to vulnerable Americans: its biggest beneficiaries are the disabled young and the elderly, Gleckman said.

Trump could scrap regulations that protect working folks, like the overtime rule.

Trump did exceptionally well with the white working class, by some counts pulling in 49% of voters in union households.

But while Trump and labor are aligned on one of his most oft-cited policies regarding trade, said Josh Bivens, research and policy director at the left-leaning nonprofit Economic Policy Institute, workers would have plenty to fear in a Trump administration.

Here's exactly how Donald Trump could hurt the middle class — and how to fight back
Trump struck a populist chord on the campaign trail.
Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

One concern has to do with funding for the Labor Department, Bivens said, which might be weakened — and therefore less powerful as a tool for fighting on behalf of workers.

This arm of the government is tasked with keeping your boss from ripping you off: everything from wage theft, to the new overtime rules which go into effect next month — and which one of Trump's top economic advisors said was "very harmful" to job creation.

"There's the broad concern that Trump is running on an absolutely enormous tax cut, and anytime you do that there's going to be a reduction in benefits," Bivens said. "Enforcement in the Labor Department has never been a priority among Republicans."

Trump could weaken the agency that protects you from scammers.

A big concern for consumer advocates is what will happen to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency tasked with protecting Americans from financial scams, like when Wells Fargo got customers to pay for accounts they didn't ask for.

The bureau has also set up rules that make it harder for debt collectors to harass you, and cracked down on the exploitation of veterans.

Part of the reason the agency is effective, Americans for Financial Reform's Goldstein said, is the autonomy of director Richard Cordray, who one lawyer and CFPB expert told the Los Angeles Timescould get the pink slip from Trump "the first week."

Trump could certainly pressure Cordray to leave — and a recent court ruling might even allow Trump to fire him without cause.

"It looks like, based on [Trump's] transition team, they're going to go after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has returned $11 billion to people scammed," Goldstein said. "The very agency that protects the people Trump said he would protect."

Trump could make it easier for financial professionals to screw over their clients.

Another protection for workers that Trump might do away with is what's called the "fiduciary rule," scheduled for 2017, which limits financial professionals to selling you only those financial and retirement products — like the holdings in your workplace 401(k) — that are in your best interest.

(That's right, such a basic protection does not already exist!)

One of Trump's top economics advisers, Anthony Scaramucci, has suggested Trump would repeal the fiduciary rule — which Scaramucci actually likened to the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which upheld slavery.

That would be a step backward, experts say.

"That's a very helpful rule, it forces the banks to look at holistic advisory services as opposed to selling product," said Brent Lipschultz, a partner at financial consultancy PWC. "I think it would bad to get rid of it."

A big caveat: Some experts say Trump would likely leave the rule alone.

That's because banks are alreadygetting ready for the rule to go into effect in April 2017, and reversing the tide might not be worth the political capital, as one lawyer told MarketWatch.

Here's how to stop Trump from hurting the middle class.

If you are worried about Trump's economic policies and leanings outlined above, remember that you can exercise your democratic right to free speech.

You can write or call your elected officials — searchable on the website for the House of Representatives (just plug in your zip code) or on the Senate contact page — and let them know which worker protections are important to you.

The GOP controls the Senate, but they don't have a super majority — meaning there's still the possibility of "give and take" as tax and regulatory policies are hashed out, PWC's Lipschultz said.

You could also author or circulate a petition using a resource like Change.org, to increase awareness about the importance of a particular program or benefit.

Finally, consider donating to political candidates that advocate for worker protections: Money talks.

Trump won the presidency despite spending half as much money as his opponent — but more than 90% of Congressional races were won by the highest-spending candidate, according to FEC data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Trump's spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.

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