President Donald Trump is said to be very concerned about the “rat and rodent infested” city of Baltimore, a place “no human being would want to live.”
Yet he failed to mention, in his string of tweets Sunday, the city’s proud history, its recent economic growth, and the fact that Maryland’s 7th District — which he attacked as a whole — has a median income above the national average. One must assume he was referring mainly to the black-majority city’s nearly 23% poverty rate, which he supposedly cares deeply about.
It’s puzzling, then, that his administration has reversed, undermined, and flat-out attacked a number of federal policies that were specifically designed to help people in poverty gain access to housing and health care, feed their families, and thrive.
For instance, Trump’s Office of Management and Budget has proposed a regulatory change that would alter the way the government determines which families are impoverished, a move that would cut millions of Americans off from benefits such as Medicaid, housing assistance, and food stamps.
Childhood hunger causes violent crime in cities such as Baltimore, according to a study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Yet, the Trump administration has sought additional ways to prevent starving families from eating as well.
A new rule proposed by the Department of Agriculture would cause over 3 million Americans to lose food assistance benefits, and make more than 500,000 kids ineligible for free school meals. The administration has also tried to impose new work requirements on health care, public housing, and housing subsidies.
Trump’s administration is using the courts to facilitate an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, which would force an estimated 19.9 million Americans to lose health coverage and kill approximately 24,000 people every year.
Meanwhile, his Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed a rule that would deny federal housing aid to undocumented immigrants and anyone living with people residing in the country illegally. The measure would would put 25,000 households — including 55,000 children who are legal U.S. citizens or residents — at risk of eviction.
And based on the administration’s actions, Trump seems to be pro-discrimination as well.
His administration has crippled an Obama-era rule called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), which is intended to better enforce the Fair Housing Act and combat housing discrimination, a problem that has persisted throughout the country. In 2018, the administration successfully rolled back rules that required cities and towns to complete a comprehensive and uniform assessment in which they explain how housing segregation exists in their community and how they planned to address it, in order to receive federal housing grants.
And his administration’s Department of Justice is examining how it can weaken disparate impact civil rights rules that prevent discrimination in housing and education. Such rules bans housing industries, housing lenders, and landlords from creating policies that negatively impact a particular minority group if there are other means of achieving what those policies set out to do, in a less discriminatory way.
But at least the Trump administration is trying to improve impoverished communities by propping up America’s youth and improving the nation’s schools, right?
Not so much. The Trump administration has previously proposed drastic cuts to after-school programs for poor families, and a grant program that helps train teachers and reduce class sizes. It also proposed capping the amount of money students and families can borrow for post-secondary schooling, a measure that would make it harder for working-class families to compete with their richer peers for schooling.
If Trump truly cared about Baltimore — and wasn’t simply trying to stir up racial tropes and further drive a wedge between rural and inner-city Americans so he could score cheap political points against the city’s congressman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) — perhaps he could cease his own hostilities against economically disadvantaged Americans.