Center for American Progress Action

CAP Action Memo: Trump’s Broken Promises to South Carolina
Press Release

CAP Action Memo: Trump’s Broken Promises to South Carolina

Washington, D.C. — On Friday, President Donald Trump will travel to North Charleston, South Carolina, to hold an event at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center, where he will likely lay out his administration’s record on a variety of issues affecting Black voters, including the economy—which Trump has tied directly to his political future. President Trump’s visit comes as polls show that 9 in 10 Black voters disapprove of his overall job performance and that more than 8 in 10 voters believe President Trump is a racist. 

According to The Washington Post, 77 percent of Black Americans believe President Trump deserves “only some” if not “hardly any” credit for the low Black unemployment numbers, while they credit President Barack Obama for lowering the unemployment rate from a high of 16.8 percent in 2010 during the recession to 7.5 percent by the time he left office.

President Trump has repeatedly claimed in his overtures to Black Americans that his administration is responsible for the lowest Black unemployment rates in history, at 5.5 percent; however, this belies the persistent gap in Black unemployment. Particularly in South Carolina, his administration’s economic record deserves more scrutiny. 

According to the Center for American Progress, three majority-Black counties in South Carolina have not only been left behind by the economic recovery, but they’ve actually seen significant percentages of job losses since 2010 when the Great Recession ended: Allendale (-3.87 percent), Bamberg (-14.6 percent), and Orangeberg (-3.48 percent). The data also show that the unemployment rate is disproportionately affecting Black residents and that Black residents are unemployed consistently at twice the rate of whites across age distribution. In 2018: 

  • The overall African American unemployment rate was 6.3 percent as compared to 2.5 percent for whites. 
  • For people ages 16 to 24, the rate for African Americans was 12.1 percent and for whites, it was 6.2 percent.
  • For people ages 25 to 44, the rate for African Americans was 6 percent and for whites, it was 2.2 percent. 

In previous visits to South Carolina, President Trump made sweeping promises to working families on kitchen table issues such as health care and the economy, but in reality, the administration has failed to deliver on Trump’s basic promises to working families. 

Learn more about how President Trump’s policies and broken promises have hurt South Carolina families here

Criminal justice 

Promise: President Trump has claimed to be a criminal justice reformer by signing into law the bipartisan federal sentencing and prison reform bill known as the FIRST STEP Act, saying in his State of the Union address, “I did criminal justice reform, nobody else. I did it. Without me, you don’t have criminal justice reform.”

Reality: However, President Trump’s actions represent a meager compromise from other reform efforts and are undercut by nearly every other action this administration has taken, most of which are antithetical to reform efforts. In reality, the Trump administration:

  • Rolled back federal investigations into police misconduct. President Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has retreated from Obama-era investigations into police agencies across the country that have been criticized for unconstitutional policing practices.
  • Raised the prospect of the death penalty in drug cases, playing to racial stereotypes. Black Americans are more than twice as likely than white Americans to be arrested for drug possession and are far more likely to receive the death penalty.
  • Eliminated restrictions preventing police departments from obtaining military equipment. Police are almost four times more likely to use force against Black people than against white people. Under the Trump administration, the DOJ has eliminated training and supervision requirements for law enforcement seeking to obtain surplus weapons.
  • Reinstated DOJ contracts with private prisons. Private prisons profit from the incarceration of individuals and house a greater share of immigrants and people of color than public prisons. 

Health care 

Promise: President Trump promised South Carolina families: “Your insurance will go way down, you’ll have better plans.” – Donald Trump in Columbia, South Carolina, February 19, 2016

Reality: The Trump administration launched an all-out attack on Americans’ health care by trying to repeal and sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including backing a lawsuit in the courts right now. If the lawsuit succeeds and the ACA is repealed:

  • 2 million South Carolinians with preexisting conditions will lose protections under ACA repeal.
  • 242,000 South Carolinians will lose their health coverage under ACA repeal.
  • The average South Carolina family has already seen premium increases of $3,670 as of 2019 due to Trump’s sabotage efforts, and that would only go up.

President Trump’s ACA sabotage has already disproportionately hurt Black Americans. The Trump administration is actively trying to repeal the ACA. If the law were overturned, the loss in coverage would disproportionately harm Black people, causing millions of Black Americans to lose health care coverage.

Profits and wages 

Promise: President Trump promised South Carolina families: “[My plan] is a bold ambitious, forward-looking plan to massively increase jobs, wages, incomes, and opportunities.” – Donald Trump, September 15, 2016

Reality: The Trump administration has taken away safeguards that ensure workers are paid overtime, protect retirees from exploitative financial advisers, and ensure that people pay less at the gas pump. The Trump administration blocked a minimum wage increase denying a pay increase to 684,000 South Carolina workers, resulting in $3 billion in lost wages for the state. Due to the Trump administration’s policies, South Carolinians will lose:


Promise: President Trump promised South Carolina families: “No one will gain more from tax cuts than low- and middle-income Americans.” – Donald Trump, August 8, 2016

Reality: Most of the Trump administration’s $2 trillion tax cut goes to corporations and the rich. Many South Carolina families are getting stuck with the bill. 

  • 200,270 South Carolina families paid more in taxes last year due to the Trump administration’s tax bill.
  • In South Carolina, the average tax cut for the wealthiest 1 percent was $48,520, while the bottom 80 percent of earners saw a small fraction of that. 

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Freedom Alexander Murphy at [email protected] or 202-796-9712.