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Exclusive: CNN Contributor Says Trump Doing More for Cities Like Chicago than Democrats Ever Have




By Steve Cortes, CNN Contributor - 

Lost in the war of words between President Trump and entrenched big city Democrats like Elijah Cummings is the real progress this administration is making to turn the tide in the war on urban blight.

Not just in Baltimore, but here in Chicago and in cities across the country, federal policy changes are making a real difference, bringing dignity and economic opportunity back to communities that had been driven to ruin by decades of dependency-inducing handouts and empty promises.

The decline of inner-city America is hardly a new phenomenon. Baltimore, the most dangerous city in America, is a prime example of the urban decay that has afflicted many big cities over the past 50 years. Baltimore is an objectively awful place to live, and so presented a ripe and justified target for President to point out that Cummings’ hyperbolic rhetoric about conditions in immigrant centers at the border is highly hypocritical for a man who has represented some of Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods for years without doing anything to improve the horrific conditions affecting his own constituents.

The real motivation behind the President’s flippant tweets wasn’t racist disdain for black Baltimore residents, but genuine outrage over the frustrating lack of progress in Democratic-dominated cities across America. Certainly, if the President hadn’t taken steps to improve urban America, he might not have standing to condemn the blight that exists in most Democrat-run cities — but that’s exactly what he has done.

Actions speak louder than words, and the last two and a half years of Trump administration successes are positively deafening.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, President Trump’s signature legislative achievement, delivered more than just a sustained economic boom that has resulted in the lowest black and Hispanic unemployment rates in American history. It also created an innovative new program for urban revitalization: the Opportunity Zone initiative.

One of the greatest obstacles to improving dilapidated urban areas is that developers simply prefer to place their bets in proven, affluent neighborhoods or invest in suburban sprawl on the outskirts of major urban areas. For decades, the problems caused by the lack of opportunity in the inner-city — crime, drugs, broken families — deterred the very investments that are needed to restore that opportunity.

Donald Trump, however, made his name and his fortune through bold real estate development projects that capitalized on under-valued properties. As President, his solution came right out of that playbook.

By allowing developers and investors to defer their capital gains from those “sure thing” bets in established neighborhoods if they invest in blighted “opportunity zones,” the Trump administration has suddenly made many of the most troubled neighborhoods in America, including dozens right here on the South and West sides and in South Suburban Cook County, where I grew up, into attractive investment opportunities for developers.

By executive order, President Trump personally appointed Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson to oversee the implementation of this Opportunity Zone program, which is expected to redirect over $100 billion to neighborhoods such as West Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester and Chicago’s Austin.

Struggling communities in Illinois, with huge disparities in educational attainment and standards of living compared to more affluent areas, stand to benefit in particular from their designation as opportunity zones. And while Trump administration policy is helping these abandoned communities go from investment backwaters to up-and-coming commodities, Dr. Carson’s Federal Housing Authority is incentivizing low-income housing in the very same areas to prevent opportunistic gentrification.

President Trump also realizes, however, that whatever the incentives, private sector developers cannot rejuvenate urban American on their own. Public institutions in poor urban America are often as worn down as the housing. That’s why Education Secretary Betsy Devos has targeted opportunity zones for federal assistance to improve  schooling.

Finally, whatever else is done, it’s practically impossible to lift a neighborhood out of poverty so long as it is mired — or even “infested” — with crime.

Luckily, President Trump’s Justice Department has worked to reverse Obama-era lawsuits and consent decrees against police departments that have crippled efforts to reduce violent crime in Chicago and Baltimore. Along with getting smart about reducing recidivism and putting non-violent offenders back into the workforce with the federal FIRST STEP Act, President Trump’s criminal sentencing reforms represent a new era of opportunity for urban America.

Unlike big-city Democrats, Trump is putting his money where his tweet is, making a difference for the blighted communities that they have neglected for decades

The Democrats and the media should acknowledge President Trump’s multifaceted commitment to fixing the problems he highlighted in his tweets instead of defaulting to false accusations of racism and continuing to deny the problem even exists.

Steve Cortes is a CNN political commentator and a member of President Donald Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council.



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  1. But many don’t want dignity and prosperity.
    They want welfare/redistribution and race entitlements.
    That’s what the Democrats offer and it is rather obvious that most non-Whites agree with them.
    Check the Exit Polls and see who is elected.