RICHMOND, VA — Tuesday marked the fifth anniversary of Donald Trump’s descent on that escalator to announce his candidacy for president of the United States, an image none of us will soon forget.
In honor of this anniversary, DPVA has spent the week running through some ways the Trump administration has harmed Virginia. Today, we’ll round up some of his most public failures in Virginia and his biggest broken promises to the Commonwealth.
In August 2017, a coalition of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, right-wing militias, and members of the Klan gathered in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Over the course of a weekend, they chanted anti-semetic and racist slogans, and carried burning torches above their heads. They reminded each of us of the lynchings and burned homes they were responsible for, of the racial terror their ilk had poured over this country for decades. One of them plowed a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer.
At a press conference soon after, Donald Trump said there “were very fine people, on both sides.” His reaction was met with horror across the country. This was one example of Trump’s willingness to give the benefit of the doubt to white supremacists, to use veiled and vague language to keep racist voters on his team.
Last month, Vice President Michael Pence staged a photo op at a Virginia nursing home. He helped unload a van full of PPE from FEMA, but he wasn’t wearing a mask while working in close proximity to others at a nursing home where residents are particularly at risk. This was just days after a Trump valet tested positive for COVID-19.
This public failure is just a small part of the larger devastation that COVID-19 has wreaked upon this country because of the Trump administration’s inept response.
COVID-19 has shown shortcomings across the American system, but one of the starkest displays has been healthcare. At a campaign rally in Richmond, Trump said, “we are going to have that great healthcare program, but we’re going to take care of everyone...and people are going to pay much less and get it so good.”
Since then, Trump has fought in the courts to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which would cut coverage for 642,000 Virginians during a deadly pandemic, and potentially increase costs or prevent as many as 3.5 million Virginians with pre-existing conditions from getting adequate coverage. All this without a plan to replace the ACA.
At a campaign rally in Virginia Beach, Trump promised to “fight for every person in this country who believes government should serve the people, not the donors and not the special interests.” In Richmond he said, “we’re going to reduce taxes tremendously because we have the highest tax rate anywhere in the world and our middle class is being absolutely destroyed.” We know this all to be a blatant lie.
Early in his first term, Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allowed corporations to pay $91 billion less in taxes. Unsurprisingly, these tax cuts didn’t trickle down to workers, and instead benefitted shareholders. This meant the wealthiest 5 percent of Virginians received over half of those resulting tax cuts, and 1.1 million Virginians making mostly under $97,000 would see their taxes increase.
Later, at a campaign rally in Manassas, Trump said “we’re going to save Social Security, we’re not going to cut Social Security or Medicare.” That was a lie. Despite his promises, Trump admitted he’s open to cutting earned benefit programs in a second term, and has already proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to them.
“Donald Trump talked a big game on the campaign trail. He promised to improve health care, cut taxes for the middle class, and ‘drain the swamp.’ We can prove now what we knew then: his administration is one that only benefits the wealthy elite and puts Virginians at risk, especially our DREAMers, those who stand up against hate, and working families.” said DPVA Press Secretary Carson Brown.