A little more than a year into his presidency, Donald Trump gave his first official State of the Union address. As expected, Trump took credit for gains he had nothing to do with and literally clapped for himself throughout the night. He also specifically mentioned African Americans and even trotted one out as part of his invited guest entourage.
How did his words match up to the facts? We put our “Black-check” finder to work to explain the truth from Trump’s fiction.
As expected, Trump touted the record low unemployment rate for African Americans. After responding to Jay-Z on Twitter over the weekend about Black unemployment, we half way expected to hear the 45th president name checked the Brooklyn rapper, but Trump managed to stick to the script during his address.
“Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.”
It’s true that African-American unemployment is at a record low, but it’s also true that Black unemployment has been on a steady decline since 2011, the tail end of Barack Obama’s first term; an indicator that he isn’t at all responsible for the low rate.
Additionally, the 6.8% Black unemployment rate is still significantly higher than the country’s overall 4.1% unemployment rate and almost twice as high as the 3.7% unemployment rate for whites. Instead of chest-thumping about a statistic that he had nothing to do with, perhaps the President should try to remove the roadblocks that prevent Black people from attaining equitable employment and pay on par with their white counterparts.
The Reality of Tax Reform for Everyday Workers
Corey Adams is an African-American, married, blue collar worker from Dayton, Ohio. He sat proudly as one of Trump’s invited guests.
“Corey is an all-American worker. He supported himself through high school, lost his job during the 2008 recession, and was later hired by Staub, where he trained to become a welder. Like many hardworking Americans, Corey plans to invest his tax‑cut raise into his new home and his two daughters’ education. Please join me in congratulating Corey.”
Staub Manufacturing is a company owned by Steve Staub and his sister Sandy Keplinger. Thanks to Trump’s tax cuts for businesses, Staub says he is able hire more people and offer raises to hardworking employees like Adams.
There was no mention of how much Adams’ raise was or if the Staub/Adams story was a typical one for employers and employees post tax reform. Companies like Walmart, Comcast and AT&T announced bonuses for some employees after Trump’s tax cuts and then promptly laid off thousands of others.
Standing for the Anthem
One of Trump’s other invited guests was a 12-year-old boy named Preston who has made it his mission to place flags on the graves of veterans on Veterans Day. To date, he has planted 40,000 flags.
“Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans. Preston’s reverence for those who have served our Nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.”
Time and again, protesting players have noted that kneeling during the anthem was not a knock on veterans or an implication of a lack of patriotism. In fact, the symbolic gesture has nothing to do with military service. Additionally, it was a military veteran who encouraged Kaepernick to take a knee in the first place.
Whether it’s unemployment, tax reform, or standing for the anthem, last night’s State of the Union missed the mark on trying to unify an already fractured country. This was Trump’s chance to show us something new, innovative, and maybe even bipartisan, but like they always say, an old dog can never learn new tricks.