President Donald Trump’s recent comments about who should not control the nation’s economy shine light on the ways that his biases against poor, Black, and LGBTQ people have become central to his administration.
Late Wednesday, at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump said the following according to The Hill.
Somebody said, ‘Why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy?’ No it’s true. And Wilbur’s a very rich person in charge of commerce. I said, ‘Because that’s the kind of thinking we want…because they’re representing the country. They don’t want the money.’
He went on to conflate being rich with having a “great brilliant business” mind. Once again reminding his constituents that business people are the only people Trump truly believes are smart and capable of running a country.
Trump also reinforced his idea of a binary system of wealth, where one is either rich or poor. For him, there seems to be little to nothing in-between. He made it crystal clear that non-rich people were just not going to be a part of his administration when he said, “I just don’t want a poor person.” That, apparently, is reason enough to limit leadership of this country to the richest of rich, the definition of a plutocracy.
Remarkable clip from tonight where Trump explains why only rich people should be in charge of economic policy.
"I don't want a poor person" pic.twitter.com/HdWFg0aU1t
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) June 22, 2017
One of the key issues here is that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is not just “rich.” The long-time investor has an estimated net worth of $2.5 Billion. That is mega-rich by pretty much anyone’s standards. The fact that Trump deems people making less than Wilbur “poor” speaks volumes about his knowledge of and concern for those most affected by economic inequity in the United States.
This isn’t the only bias from the Trump Administration to present itself in recent weeks.
Yesterday, in a letter from Representative Cedric L. Robinson, Chair and Democrat representing Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district, the CBC refused another meeting. They wrote,
In written communication dating back to January 2017, we have shared the priorities of the Caucus as they relate to the Black community. We are serious about the work of advancing the interests of our people and the goals of the CBC. As a result, we took advantage of every opportunity to educate you on the needs of the Black community and provide you with the information and solutions necessary to act on them in good faith. Through an objective assessment, we have seen no evidence that your Administration acted on our calls for action, and we have in fact witnessed steps that will affirmatively hurt Black communities. While we agreed to explore possible future discussions when we first met, it has become abundantly clear that a conversation with the entire CBC would not be entirely productive, given the actions taken by your Administration since our first meeting. While you can solicit the engagement of individual members of our caucus, the CBC as a caucus declines your invitation to meet at this time.
The Caucus explained that there have been several indications that the suggestions they made in their initial meeting “fell on deaf ears.” Not only that, they note that Trump’s proposed budget cuts could “devastate the communities” they represent.
Of their chief concerns were Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s refusal to protect LGBTQ children from discrimination in schools and her and the administration’s roles in defunding Historically Black Colleges and Universities that receive federally-based funding for low-income and underrepresented students. They also mentioned Trump’s recent signing statement that questioned the “constitutionality of funding for certain HBCU programming.”
Rather than mince words, the CBC called out specifically where Trump Administration has negatively impacted Black people and, in the process, the poor and LGBTQ people, too.
These presidential actions have grave impacts for marginalized people.
Even though it hasn’t bubbled to the top of most mainstream news front pages, six advisors recently resigned from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) because, they explained in an op-ed for Newsweek, Trump “simply does not care.” The group was reluctant to resign due to the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, which has the greatest impact on the poor, communities of color and women. They did so anyway out of exasperation with the lack of support from the Trump Adminitration.
The biases present in this adminstration can be seen through the actions of Trump’s appointees as well.
According to the LA Times, Secretary DeVos has struggled to address key education issues even months after being in her position. These issues include: civil rights enforcement in schools, state’s rights and the role of the federal government, budget cuts, and the future of the Common Core standards. Essentially, the issues many raised during her confirmation hearing have remained with no change in sight.
Trump also reportedly appointed Lynne Patton, the family’s wedding planner and Vice President of the Eric Trump Foundation, to lead the HUD office that oversees housing in New York and New Jersey, according to New York Daily News. Now, Representative Grace Meng, Democrat from New York’s 6th distrct, is calling for her removal. Her main issue: Patton never received a law degree from Quinnipiac University as she has claimed.
While Patton’s reported lack of qualifications is an issue, the greater problem with this appointment is that it is another example of Trump’s cronyism and commitment to running the government based on his friendships and personal preferences. DeVos and Ross are also representative of that fact.
One thing is for certain: these first few months haven’t gone well, especially for poor, Black, and LGBTQ people. What isn’t for sure is what the rest of this presidency will mean for these groups in the coming years.
Image via Flickr