On August 23, 2016, Donald Trump promised a crowd in Austin, TX, that he would free the country from “special interests, corrupt politicians, […] and a rigged system that benefits only the insiders,” adding that he would create a “more inclusive country, where no one is left out.”
As it turns out, the Trump administration has further rigged the system in favor of special interests, corrupt politicians, and insiders, leaving out millions of hard-working Texans. In today’s update, we highlight how the Trump administration’s policies have hurt working-class families in the Lone Star state.
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FIVE FACTS ON TRUMP’S RECORD IN TEXAS
- More than 300,000 Dreamers call Texas home and contribute to their communities in fundamental ways. In fact, Dreamers and their families pay a total of $1.1 billion annually in state and local taxes in Texas alone. But the contributions of Dreamers to Texas and to America are in jeopardy due to the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrants and on the entire Texas economy. This is despite poll after poll showing that the vast majority of Americans across the political spectrum favor permanent protections for Dreamers.
- The Trump administration has launched the most aggressive seizure of private land in decades, with the Department of Homeland Security filing more than 360 eminent domain lawsuits against property owners along the southern border to construct the misguided border wall. In countless cases, the government gave landowners lowball offers based on flawed appraisals.
- Hurricane season is well underway, yet the Trump administration is transferring hundreds of millions of dollars from FEMA — an already under-resourced agency — to support immigrant detention and border operations at the southern border. In the two years since Hurricane Harvey struck Houston, the Trump administration’s failure to invest in climate resilience has left Texans needlessly vulnerable.
- Thanks to the Trump administration’s corporate-heavy tax cuts, 1.6 million Texas households either received no tax cut or experienced a tax increase. In contrast, eight Texas-based Fortune 500 corporations paid zero federal income tax in 2018.
- The average family of four in Texas can expect to pay an additional $3,660 in health care premiums this year due to the Trump administration’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. If the Trump administration is successful in repealing the ACA, 11.6 million Texans with preexisting conditions will lose protections, and 1.7 million Texans will lose their health coverage.
Approximately 335,600 Dreamers eligible for permanent protection under the American Dream and Promise Act call Texas home. That is more than 15% of all Dreamers in the country and more than in any state apart from California. Annually these Texas households contribute $2 billion in federal taxes and $1.1 billion in state and local taxes, and they have a combined yearly spending power exceeding $9.4 billion.
Despite promising to show “great heart” and “great love” when it comes to the nearly 700,000 Dreamers protected today by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — more than 110,000 of whom reside in Texas — the Trump administration ended DACA in September 2019 and will be defending its decision to end DACA before the Supreme Court in November.
Moreover, the Trump administration has blocked progress on providing a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and instead shut down the federal government in early 2019 and tried to hold Dreamers hostage in exchange for border wall funding. This is despite serious doubts regarding the wall’s effectiveness, including from his own chief of staff who once called Trump’s obsession with the wall “simplistic” as well as “absurd and almost childish.”
Even among white working-class male conservative voters, a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers is extremely popular — roughly 81% support it.
Additionally, the Trump administration is continuing to degrade the rule of law in its latest effort to pursue the cruelest punishment possible for undocumented immigrant children. The administration’s plan to override court-ordered protections that establish baseline standards for the treatment of migrant children in government custody could cost American taxpayers up to $12.9 billion over the next decade.
In its effort to undermine Congress and construct a large wall along the border, the Trump administration early in 2019 declared a national emergency to funnel billions of non-congressionally approved dollars for the wall. To obtain land, the federal government must use eminent domain, which under normal circumstances provides “just compensation” to owners of private land in exchange for their property.
Yet Donald Trump has reportedly told aides to just “take the land” and “get it done.”
A report by the Texas Tribune found that the Trump administration has invoked a little-known Depression-era law that allows it to swiftly seize land and compensate landowners later. This is particularly worrisome in Texas, where over 90% of the Rio Grande’s river acreage is privately owned.
The concept of “just compensation” has also come under scrutiny. A report by ProPublica found that landowners who could afford lawyers saw roughly a 300% increase in settlement from the median offer from the federal government. For those who did not (or could not afford to) use attorneys, the increase from the median was only 33%.
There are more than 1,000 landowners on the Texas-Mexico border. If the Trump administration continues seizing private land, it could cost American taxpayers much more than the estimated $59.8 billion initial payment and $864,000 per mile of wall per year in maintenance; legal fees and the cost of purchasing land are likely to compound these figures significantly.
CLIMATE CHANGE & THE ENVIRONMENT
Climate-related natural disasters have cost the country more than $450 billion in just the past three years. Scientists anticipate the if warming stays in its current trajectory, the U.S. economy could lose $500 billion annually in crop damage, lost labor, and weather damages by the end of the century.
Even though extreme weather events are becoming more common, the Trump administration continues to deny the overwhelming evidence of the climate crisis.
Just 10 days before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the Trump administration officially rescinded the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, a policy requiring that federally-funded infrastructure projects in flood-prone areas are built to withstand more severe flooding.
The Trump administration has threatened FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program, which supports storm-proofing critical infrastructure and homes to reduce the risks associated with extreme weather events.
The Trump administration has also proposed the elimination of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, which provides affordable flood insurance — a senseless decision given that 80% of the households impacted by Hurricane Harvey lacked flood insurance.
This decision harmed low-income communities and communities of color in Texas, who are disproportionately affected by and less resilient to extreme weather events.
Worse still, the Trump administration has put the interests of polluting industries over the quality of the air Texans breathe and the water they drink. The Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump administration has eased pollution enforcement, lodging significantly fewer penalties than past administrations and making illegal pollution easier and cheaper for companies.
Nearly 5 million Texans receive drinking water from systems that have health-based violations of the Safe Water Drinking Act yet, the Trump administration’s EPA director has sabotaged efforts to improve the state’s water quality.
Unauthorized industrial air pollution in Texas has increased 27% under the Trump administration’s first year. Earlier in 2019, Houston communities faced heightened air quality concerns after dangerous levels of the toxic chemical benzene were released by a petrochemical fire. As Texas air pollution continues to worsen with increased oil production, the Trump administration has proposed a 30% budget cut to the EPA.
Eight Fortune 500 companies in Texas paid $0 in federal taxes last year following to the Trump administration’s tax cuts. They include EOG Resources, Halliburton, Kinder Morgan, Occidental Petroleum, Pioneer Natural Resources, and Trinity Industries. Instead of investing this windfall to improve workers’ wages or on capital investment — as the tax bill’s supporters claimed they would — they corporate beneficiaries of the tax giveaway spent billions on stock buybacks to enrich executives and shareholders.
Moreover, the vast majority of the benefits in personal income tax changes flows to the wealthiest. In 2020, the richest 5% of Texans will receive 53% of the total benefits from the Trump administration’s tax cuts in the state. Meanwhile, the bottom 80% will receive only 26% of the benefits.
Last year alone, the average tax cut for the bottom 80% of Texans was $691, while for the wealthiest 1%, it was $80,350 — over 116 times more.
In the final two years of Donald Trump’s first term, the average tax cut for someone in the top 1% in Texas will be $147,130. For those in the bottom 80%, it will be $1,379 — over 100 times less.
President Trump used to claim that “everybody’s got to be covered” by health insurance and promised that uninsured individuals would “be taken care of” under his administration. Unfortunately for families in Texas, this has not been the case.
Due to the Trump administration’s attacks on the Affordable Care Act, the average family of four in Texas can expect to pay an additional $3,660 in premiums in 2019. And having narrowly failed to repeal the ACA in Congress, the Trump administration is trying to repeal it outright through a lawsuit. If the ACA got its way and the ACA were repealed in its entirety:
- 1.7 million Texans would lose coverage, causing the state’s uninsured rate to increase by 37%.
- 11.6 million Texans with preexisting conditions would face higher premiums or be barred from coverage altogether — a discriminatory practice that the ACA outlawed.
- 3.8 million Texans would face cost limits on employer-based coverage.
- The state of Texas would lose $6.5 billion in federal Medicaid funding.
- Demand for uncompensated care — care provided to those who can’t afford it — would increase by $3.3 billion, placing a massive burden on hospitals and physicians.
For more on how Trump’s broken promises are impacting your state, head to TrumpsBrokenPromises.org.