African Americans and the Economy under Trump
By SCOTT TURNER | National Review
Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion with Secretary of Housing
and Urban Development Ben Carson (second from right) and conservative black
supporters in the Cabinet Room at the White House, June 10, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
may not have noticed how the black community benefited from this economy, but
black voters sure did.
It has been six months since President Trump left
the White House and Democrats are still race-baiting the former president and
Republicans. Representative Byron Donalds (R., Fla.) was yet another target of
Democrats’ wrath in this respect after he was denied entry into the Congressional
Black Caucus because of his continued support for President Trump.
There are those who want you to believe, as President
Biden said during the election, that Donald Trump was “one
of the most racist presidents” ever and that the Republican Party is just as
bad. Nothing could be further from the truth. Simply take a look at the
economic record of the last four years.
Before COVID-19 severely impacted our social and economic
lives, black Americans were seeing real benefits from lower taxes and lower
regulation. The unemployment rate for blacks reached a record low of 5.2
percent and black labor-force participation reached 63.2 percent, the highest
it had been since the 2008 recession.
The poverty rate for black Americans also reached record
lows, while a total of 1 million lifted themselves out of poverty between 2016
and 2019. Over the same period, real median household income for black families
rose over $4,000 after actually falling over the previous 14 years (2002–2016).
With incomes rising so fast, it should not be surprising that black
homeownership skyrocketed to 47 percent, another mark not reached since the
While countless Americans benefited from the blue-collar
boom ignited by Republican economic policies, black Americans fared
particularly well, especially compared with their experience during the Obama
economy. Then, black median weekly earnings grew just 1.8 percent on average,
which was less than the 2.1 percent growth for white earnings. Under President
Trump’s pre-pandemic economy, however, black median weekly earnings grew 4.1
percent on average — higher, in fact, than the 3.4 percent earning growth for
The exceptional economic success that bolstered black
American families during that period was no accident. President Trump worked
closely with black leaders like me to craft an agenda that would help our
communities realize our dreams. Consider just a few significant examples.
First, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 created nearly 9,000 opportunity zones in which capital gains
on long-term investments are taxed at zero. Each of these opportunity zone
census tracts, which had to be nominated by state governors and certified by
the secretary of the treasury, had to have a poverty rate of at least 20
percent or a median income less than 80 percent of that in the state. The
selected opportunity zones ultimately had an average poverty rate almost double
that of more-affluent communities in the state and were home to a higher
share of black and Hispanic households.
The incentives created by these opportunity zones helped
raise $75 billion in capital for underserved communities in
their first two years — enough to create approximately 500,000 jobs — and were
on track to lift 1 million people out of poverty.
Second, Republicans passed the most sweeping
criminal-justice-reform legislation in a generation: the First Step Act. This
landmark legislation reformed the sentencing laws that have wrongly and
disproportionately harmed black communities for decades. Black communities want
law and order, and building trust in our criminal-justice system is one of the
best ways to promote public safety. The First Step Act gave nonviolent
offenders the chance to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens.
Finally, President Trump, along with Republicans in
Congress, made key strategic changes to strengthen our historically black
colleges and universities — including moving the federal Historically Black
Colleges and Universities Initiative back to the White House, fully forgiving
$322 million in disaster loans to HBCUs, and enabling faith-based HBCUs to
receive equal access to federal support. Trump also signed the FUTURE Act which, with strong
bipartisan support, made $255 million in annual funding for HBCUs permanent and
increased funding for the Pell Grant program. Other legislation also included
$100 million for scholarships, research, and centers for excellence at HBCUs.
Democrats may not have noticed all the work Republicans
did for the black community, but black voters sure did. Between 2016 and 2020, Trump doubled his support among
black women and received almost 20 percent of the vote of black men. No other
Republican has come close to these numbers for decades.
In spite of what you may hear, black people do not want
open borders, we don’t want to defund the police, and we don’t want higher
taxes and more spending.
Entrepreneurship, innovation, skills training, economic
sustainability, and generational wealth creation are equally as important in the
black community as in any other in America. That is what Republican policies
delivered and it can be the foundation of a truly multicultural middle-class
party for decades to come.