Donald Trump on Welfare & Poverty

2016 Republican incumbent President; 2000 Reform Primary Challenger for President


1970s: changed rental practice to avoid discrimination suit

In 1973, The Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division sued Donald and my grandfather for violating the 1968 Fair Housing act by refusing to rent to "die Schwarze", as my grandfather put it. It was one of the largest federal housing discrimination suits ever brought, and the notorious attorney Roy Cohn offered to help.

Cohn recommended that Trump Management file a countersuit against the Justice Dept. for $100 million over what he alleged were the government's false and misleading statements about his client. The maneuver was simultaneously absurd, flashy, and effective--at least in the terms of publicity it garnered; it was the first time that Donald, at 27, had landed on a newspapers' front page. And although the countersuit would be tossed out of court, Trump Management settled the case. There was no admission of wrongdoing, but they did have to change their rental practices to avoid discrimination. Even so, Cohn and Donald considered it a win because of all the press coverage.

Source: Too Much and Never Enough, by Mary Trump, p.100-1 , Jul 14, 2020

Suspends some SNAP limits; may still curtail eligibility

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said it will comply with a recently passed law suspending limits on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for unemployed adults for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. There are two other SNAP cuts pending, and USDA spokespeople declined to say whether the department still planned to finalize an eligibility change that would shrink enrollment by about 3 million.
Source: Huffington Post on Trump Administration , Mar 24, 2020

9,000 Opportunities Zones are transforming neighborhoods

To lift up forgotten and impoverished communities, we created nearly 9,000 Opportunities Zones all across our country-- Senator Tim Scott was so great--creating jobs, opportunity, and investment. It's now pouring into the places that needed it the most. We have poor areas that haven't had 10 cents invested in them in years and years and years. And now millions of dollars are going in there. We're transforming neighborhoods. It's incredible.
Source: Remarks by President Trump at the 2020 CPAC Conference , Feb 29, 2020

7M people off welfare and food stamps

The unemployment rate is the lowest in over half a century. Incredibly, the average unemployment rate under my Administration is lower than any administration in the history of our country. If we had not reversed the failed economic policies of the previous administration, the world would not now be witness to America's great economic success.

The unemployment rates for African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans have reached the lowest levels in history. African-American youth unemployment has reached an all-time low. The unemployment rate for women reached the lowest level in almost 70 years--and last year, women filled 72% of all new jobs added. A record number of young Americans are now employed.

Under the last administration, more than 10 million people were added to the food stamp rolls. Under my Administration, 7 million Americans have come off of food stamps, and 10 million people have been lifted off of welfare.

Source: 2020 State of the Union address to Congress , Feb 4, 2020

Opportunity Zones in 9,000 neglected neighborhoods

Jobs and investment are pouring into 9,000 previously-neglected neighborhoods thanks to Opportunity Zones, a plan spearheaded by Senator Tim Scott as part of our great Republican tax cuts. In other words, wealthy people and companies are pouring money into poor neighborhoods or areas that have not seen investment in many decades, creating jobs, energy, and excitement. This is the first time that these deserving communities have seen anything like this. It is all working!

Opportunity Zones are helping Americans like Army Veteran Tony Rankins from Cincinnati, Ohio. After struggling with drug addiction, Tony lost his job, his house, and his family--he was homeless. But then Tony found a construction company that invests in Opportunity Zones. He is now a top tradesman, drug-free, reunited with his family, and he is here tonight. Tony: Keep up the great work.

Source: 2020 State of the Union address to Congress , Feb 4, 2020

New rule will cut SNAP benefits for 688,000

Hundreds of thousands of Americans who rely on the federal food stamp program will lose their benefits under a new Trump administration rule that will tighten work requirements for recipients. The plan will limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to receive benefits. The Agriculture Department estimates the change would save roughly $5.5 billion over five years and cut benefits for roughly 688,000 SNAP recipients.
Source: Chicago Tribune interview on Trump Administration , Dec 5, 2019

Rebuild our black inner cities, which are so sad

Trump put forward a particular vision of America after he won the California primary: "We're going to rebuild our inner cities, which are absolutely a shame and so sad. We're going to take care of our African-American people that have been mistreated for so long. We're going to make you and your family safe, secure, and prosperous again. Together, we will put the American people first again."

Trump's rhetoric about black Americans has been shaped by conservative views about what black America is like and what its people want. They've been predicated on the idea that there are hard-working black people who are being held back by the cultural pathology of their inner-city surroundings.

This is a vision of the African-American community that's been common in both white and black conservative politics for decades. It's the vision that brought some African-American leaders to support the war on drugs. It's the vision of "respectability politics" proponents from Ben Carson to Bill Cosby.

Source: Timothy A. Clary on Vox.com, Donald Trump's Black Outreach , Sep 17, 2016

Help those in need by massive tax cuts & cutting regulations

I want to discuss the economy, and helping those in need. There is no more charitable group in this country than Christians. And all of us here today are determined to lift suffering Americans out of poverty. Going to do it, with a lot of other people going to help. As your president, I will pursue a complete reform of our economy to bring back millions of new jobs into our country.

That includes, we will be doing massive tax cuts for working families and for businesses. It includes, very importantly, the elimination of all needless job-killing regulations. It includes lifting the restrictions on American energy, which is under siege. I will also renegotiate NAFTA. And if they don't want to renegotiate it so it becomes a two-way highway, not just a one-way highway out of the United States for our companies and our jobs, we will terminate NAFTA. It's going to be America first, and it's going to be the American worker first.

Source: 11th Annual Value Voters Summit - 2016 , Sep 9, 2016

1970s: opposed rent control but lived in rent-controlled apt

In 1971, Trump moved into a Manhattan apartment on the seventeenth floor of a building on East Seventy-Fifth Street. He parked his Cadillac convertible in a garage next door and each day drove the sizable distance to work at the Trump Management office on Avenue Z. The Upper East Side apartment had a certain appeal for a young man, in part because it was rent-controlled; city law prohibited the landlord from increasing the rent substantially each year. (In 1975, Trump handed the apartment over to his brother Robert. About that time, Donald spoke out against rent-control laws: "Everybody in New York gets their increases but the landlords, and we are going to put an end to that practice.")
Source: Trump Revealed, by Michael Kranish & Mark Fisher, p. 58-9 , Aug 23, 2016

1981: Rent-control tenants are "millionaires in mink coats"

Trump pushed for a massive condo complex on the southern edge of Central Park. In 1981, he bought two grand old buildings--the Barbizon Plaza Hotel, and a 15-story apartment building next door--for $13 million. Trump bought them to demolish them, but he ran into hard resistance from tenants eager to keep their rent-controlled units. Trump decried his opponents as "millionaires in mink coats, driving Rolls-Royces." Some of the residents were seniors on fixed incomes; others were indeed well-to-do.

Trump, tenants said, tried to force them out by annoying them. He proposed to move homeless people into at least ten vacant apartments. Maintenance workers ignored leaky faucets and covered up windows of empty apartments with ratty tinfoil. A tenants' group accused Trump of harassment, but he denied all. "The rich," he said, "have a very low threshold for pain."

After a 5-year standoff, Trump dropped his demolition plans and renovated into luxury apartments. The existing tenants could stay.

Source: Trump Revealed, by Michael Kranish & Mark Fisher, p. 91 , Aug 23, 2016

Sought to exclude welfare recipients from his residences

Where Trump and the Feds disagree, he said, was on the landlord's standards for approving or rejecting a tenant. The government's lawyers, acting on claims of would-be renters, said that black applicants with the same financial qualifications as whites who were given leases had been turned away. Donald Trump insisted this was not true and that his company only sought to exclude welfare recipients, who, he feared, would not pay rent and move out in "one or two months." Trump said that the settlement by the LeFrak Organization [another city landlord] required that LeFrak rent to applicants on welfare, and that if Trump agreed to the same type of settlement, tenants would flee his buildings and entire "communities as a whole." Although LeFrak tried to dispute this description of the arrangement, Trump was in fact correct. LeFrak had agreed that applicants who were not working but received enough in welfare to pay their rent could live in his buildings.
Source: Never Enough, by Michael D'Antonio, p. 80 , Sep 22, 2015

OpEd:"dog-whistle" racist language links "welfare" & "black"

When he talked about welfare instead of race, Trump played to the prejudices of those who were inclined to think of assistance payments as handouts for undeserving black families. The linkage of the words "welfare" and "black" began in the 1950s.

Did Donald Trump know that as he complained about being forced to accept tenants on welfare he was using code--eventually this would be called dog-whistle language--to play on racial animus? He insisted that he never intended such a thing, and complained that efforts to test the practices of real estate managers amounted to "a form of horrible harassment." But in choosing to fight the government and claiming the Feds were trying to force him to accept welfare clients, Trump did play on stereotypes. When the case was settled, Trump agreed to a process that would make it much easier for minority applicants to move into his buildings. This type of agreement was all the federal prosecutors wanted when they first approached the Trumps.

Source: Never Enough by M. D'Antonio, p. 83-4 , Sep 22, 2015

I don't like firing people; work makes people better

The American work ethic is what led generations of Americans to create our once prosperous nation.

That's what I find so morally offensive about welfare dependency: it robs people of the chance to improve. Work gives every day a sense of purpose. A job well done provides a sense of pride and accomplishment. I love to work. In fact, I like working so much that I seldom take vacations. Because I work so hard, I've been privileged to create jobs for tens of thousands of people. And on my hit show "The Apprentice", I get to work with people from all works of life. I'm known for my famous line, "You're fired!" But the truth is, I don't like firing people. Sometimes you have to do it, but it's never fun or easy. One of my favorite parts of business is seeing how work transforms people into better, more confident, more competent individuals. It's inspiring and beautiful to watch.

Source: Time to Get Tough, by Donald Trump, p.107 , Dec 5, 2011

Food stamps should be temporary; not a decade on the dole

The food stamp program was originally created as temporary assistance for families with momentary times of need. And it shouldn't be needed often. Thankfully, 96 percent of America's poor parents say their children never suffer even a day of hunger. But when half of food stamp recipients have been on the dole for nearly a decade, something is clearly wrong, and some of it has to do with fraud.

The really infuriating thing is that the Obama administration doesn't seem to care about how taxpayers are being shaken down by this outrageously mismanaged government program.

The blatant waste of taxpayers' dollars doesn't bother Obama, because it's all part of his broader nanny-state agenda. Perhaps that's why his administration doesn't give a rip about policing fraud or administering responsible oversight-he's buying votes.

Source: Time to Get Tough, by Donald Trump, p.113-114 , Dec 5, 2011

Apply welfare-to-work to 76 other welfare programs

The secret to the 1996 Welfare Reform Act's success was that it tied welfare to work. To get your check, you had to prove that you were enrolled in job-training or trying to find work. But here's the rub: the 1996 Welfare Reform Act only dealt with one program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), not the other seventy-six welfare programs which, today, cost taxpayers more than $900 billion annually. We need to take a page from the 1996 reform and do the same for other welfare programs. Benefits should have strings attached to them. After all, if it's our money recipients are getting, we the people should have a say in how it's spent.

The way forward is to do what we did with AFDC and attach welfare benefits to work. The Welfare Reform Act of 2011--proposed by Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Scott Garrett of New Jersey--does just that.

Source: Time to Get Tough, by Donald Trump, p.116 , Dec 5, 2011

I give a lot of money away to charity

Once you have reached the top, what do you do? Once you have reached the top, it is time to give back. Give to charity, give to your children, give your knowledge to others, and give to your culture. I made a lot of money, and I give a lot of money away to charity.

Warren Buffet is a great example: billionaire investor Warren Buffet is distributing more than $30 billion of his stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses on global health issues.

It is also important to give your knowledge and insight freely to anyone who asks. I believe people absorb more efficiently and faster when they learn by doing, and I am intent on giving people the knowledge they need to succeed. I give two-hour speeches at The Learning Annex Wealth Expos for the same purpose, and I donate a large portion of my speaking fees to charity.

Source: Think Big, by Donald Trump, p.218-9 , Sep 8, 2008

Let "saints" help teen moms; restrict public assistance

Can restraint be taught? Teenage mothers [shouldn’t] get public assistance unless they jump through some pretty small hoops. Making them live in group homes makes sense. A lot of these girls didn’t have fathers or full-time parents. But there are people-I think we can call them saints-who dedicate their lives to helping kids like this. Whoever they are, and whether they work out of a church, a temple, or some kind of public facility, they deserve all our support.
Source: The America We Deserve, by Donald Trump, p.107-8 , Jul 2, 2000

Sponsored bill providing housing vouchers to ex-addicts.

Trump voted YEA Transitional Housing for Recovery in Viable Environments Demonstration Program Act

Congressional Summary: Transitional Housing for Recovery in Viable Environments Demonstration Program Act: This bill requires HUD to establish a five-year demonstration program to provide low-income rental-assistance vouchers to individuals recovering from an opioid or other substance-use disorder. Specifically, these vouchers shall be provided through a supportive housing program that provides treatment for such disorders and coordination with workforce development providers.

Statement in support by the Republican Policy Committee: This bill would set aside, out of approximately 2.2 million vouchers, the lesser of 10,000 Section 8 vouchers or .05% of all vouchers. In 2017, President Trump established the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The Commission will be chaired by Governor Chris Christie and will study ways to combat and treat the scourge of the opioid crisis. The Commission noted, "There is a critical shortage of recovery housing for Americans in or pursuing recovery. Recovery residences (also known as 'sober homes') are alcohol- and drug-free living environments for individuals seeking the skills and social support to remain free of alcohol or other drugs."

Statement in opposition by National Low-Income Housing Coalition: The bill would lengthen affordable housing waiting lists for low income families, seniors, and people experiencing homelessness. Rep. Maxine Waters spoke against the bill [saying it] tries to help people suffering from substance-use disorders, but that doing so requires more resources: "You cannot do this on the cheap. Rehabilitation costs money. We would be taking 10,000 vouchers from those who have been waiting in line for years."

Legislative outcome: Bill Passed House, 230-17-24 on June 14, 2018. No vote in Senate [died in committee].

Source: Congressional vote 18-HR5735 on May 9, 2018

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Page last updated: Jan 03, 2022