Only one member of the Congressional Black Caucus clapped when President Donald Trump highlighted that African American unemployment reached its lowest level in recorded history during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
“Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages,” Trump said.
“Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low,” he continued. “African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.”
Florida Democrat Rep. Al Lawson clapped for the landmark achievement for his fellow African Americans, while the rest of his Congressional Black Caucus sat on their hands.
According to the caucus’ website, the CBC was established in 1971 “to ensure that African Americans and other marginalized communities in the United States have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream,” so one would think the record low unemployment figure would be something the members could celebrate.
However, rather than wanting to give President Trump any credit for the achievement, the caucus said former President Obama should receive the praise under the hashtag #ThanksObama.
The members pointed to the downward trend in black unemployment numbers that began during Obama’s first term, as the country recovered from the Great Recession.
Black activist Horace Cooper differed with the CBC’s assessment as to who is responsible for the current black unemployment rate, saying Trump’s economic policies have made the difference.
Cooper — who is a member of the conservative, free-market African-American group Project 21 — told The Daily Signal not only is 6.8 percent the lowest unemployment rate on record, it also represents the narrowest gap between black and white Americans at 3.1 percentage points.
The scholar said Trump should rightly take credit for the rapid turn of events for African-Americans.
“We saw nothing like that during the Obama administration,” he said. “(F)rom 2009 to 2015, black America’s unemployment rate turned to the worst numbers that we have seen as a community. It was the very policies that he pushed that caused this disparity.”
During much of Obama’s time in office, the gap between blacks and whites ranged between 6 and 8 percent. It was only well into his second term, after Republicans gained control of both chambers of Congress and put a full stop on Obama’s agenda, the difference began to shrink.
“And it didn’t surprise me, because the policies of President Obama were more focused on handing out food stamps, and assistance, and government handouts, rather than seeing to it that the most important civil rights of all, your right to be independent, your right to be self-sufficient, (were) being honored with policies of limited government. That’s not Obama’s plan,” said Cooper.
He also pointed out that two million fewer people are receiving food stamps under Trump than Obama due to the improving economy.
The Heritage Foundation’s Genevieve Wood asked Cooper what specifically Trump was doing differently than Obama to help the economy, and thereby the financial situations of minorities.
“One, he is not bringing new regulations into place, but (two,) he is actually rolling back the bad regulations that we saw before,” replied Cooper. “So businesses are opening up and it turns out the pool of people that are most available right now, because of multiple years of bad regulatory and economic growth, are black Americans.”
“And those people, therefore, are rushing into the marketplace. This is great news,” he exclaimed.
The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times also credited Trump’s rollback of regulations in creating a new pro-growth business climate, which the Republican tax reform bill passed last month only enhances.
Small business confidence is at an all-time high, and the stock market hit multiple records highs, rising 40 percent and gaining $8 trillion in value since Trump was elected.
The economy is looking strong for 2018. The Atlanta Federal Reserve is projecting GDP growth rate of 4.2 percent in the first quarter.
The Fed revised its GDP growth estimate up for the fourth quarter of 2017 from 3.92 to 3.98 percent.
During President Barack Obama’s entire eight years in office, the annual growth rate never topped 3 percent. During his final two quarters in office, the economy grew at a 1.6 percent rate.
At the GOP retreat in West Virginia on Thursday, Trump noted how the Democrats, including the CBC, sat stone-faced after he spoke of the record low African American and Hispanic unemployment rates.
“When I made that statement the other night, there was zero movement from the Democrats,” he said. “They sat there stone cold, no smile, no applause.”
“You would have thought on that one they would have at least clapped a little bit, which tells us they would rather see us not do well than our country do great. And that’s not good.”
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