CAP Action Memo: Trump’s Broken Promises to Kentucky Working Families

Washington, D.C. — Today, President Donald Trump visits Kentucky, where he will address the American Veterans (AMVETS) convention in Louisville, after failing to make good on his administration’s promises to both veterans nationwide and Kentucky working families.

The White House was criticized by AMVETS for not showing former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) the “proper respect.” After McCain’s death, AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly called the president’s response and his decision to only briefly lower flags “outrageous.” Trump has boasted to veterans that he passed the Veterans Choice program, which was created by a bill that then-President Barack Obama signed in 2014 and that ironically was spearheaded by McCain himself.

In 2016, Trump visited Kentucky twice, making promises to cut Kentuckians’ taxes, help farmers export their goods while making money, and put in place a “great, great” health care plan, but the president has failed to deliver on these promises. 

For instance, Maggie Chism of Richmond, Kentucky, has a daughter, Evelyn, or Evie, who was born with a dangerous heart condition. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) saved her life. The Trump administration has tried to repeal the law, but losing the ACA would take health care away from 379,000 Kentuckians such as Evie.

Learn more about these broken promises to the state at trumpsbrokenpromises.org, with some highlights below:

Health care

Promise: “We’re going to get rid of Obamacare. We’re going to have a great, great plan as a substitute.” – Donald Trump, Louisville, Kentucky, May 20, 2016

Reality:

  • 1.8 million Kentuckians with pre-existing conditions will lose protections under repeal of the ACA
  • 379,000 Kentuckians will lose their health coverage under ACA repeal 
  • $3,220: Annual premium increase for the average Kentucky family 

Wages

Promise: “Our economy will be unleashed and millions will be lifted from welfare to work.” – Donald Trump, Louisville, Kentucky, March 20, 2017

Reality:

Taxes

Promise: “We are going to massively reduce your taxes.” – Donald Trump, Louisville, Kentucky, March 20, 2017

Reality:

  • 123,420 Kentucky families paid more in taxes this year due to the Trump administration’s tax cuts to benefit the wealthiest Americans
  • Who in Kentucky benefits from the Trump administration’s tax scam:
    • Average tax cut for the wealthiest 1 percent: $37,870 
    • Average tax cut for the bottom 80 percent: $553

Coal mining 

Promise: “We’re gonna take care of our mines, we’re gonna take care of our miners … we’re going to bring back our industry.” – Donald Trump, 10/10/16

Reality:

NBC News, 08/21/19: “Coal barons reap benefits from Trump agenda, while coal miners see layoffs and benefit cuts”

Farming

Promise: “[W]e’re going to negotiate trade deals to protect our farmers, help them export their goods, and make money doing it.” – Donald Trump, September 13, 2016 

Reality:

  • In 2018 alone, nearly one-sixth of Kentucky dairy farms with Grade A permits shut down, continuing the trend of small farms being pushed out by large corporations that benefited from Trump’s tax cuts.
  • As soybean prices drop by 20 percent due to the Trump administration’s erratic trade policies, Kentucky farmers face losses topping $200 million.
  • Farm debt has increased by nearly one-third since 2013, to levels that haven’t been seen since the farm crisis of the 1980s.
  • Net farm income has fallen by nearly 50 percent since 2013, as the Trump administration’s erratic trade policies continue to exacerbate the economic pain felt by farmers.
  • The Trump administration’s tariff relief aid for farmers is enriching multinational corporations such as JBS, a Brazilian company that received more than $62 million in government contracts and payments in the first quarter of 2019, while raking in $273 million in profits in the same time period. 

Opioid crisis

Promise: “We will never stop until our job is done … we will end this terrible menace, we will smash the grip of addiction” – Donald Trump, April 24, 2019 

Reality:

  • In 2017, Kentucky had the eighth-highest rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in the country: 1,160 people died of opioid overdoses in 2017. That is more than car accidents and homicides combined.
  • Kentucky’s opioid death rate is almost twice the national average.

The Trump administration’s actions have done little to help:

Veterans 

Promise: “Just today we learned that the VA has violated a federal law by failing to make its performance records available to consumers. The scandals never seem to end.” – Donald Trump, September 12, 2016 

Reality:

  • President Trump nominated David Shulkin as veterans affairs secretary, who was confirmed but had to resign after he was embroiled in a government waste scandal involving personal travel for Shulkin and his family, and an internal watchdog reported a list of failures at the Washington, D.C., Veterans Affairs (VA)  Medical Center, the largest in the country. The Government Accountability Office is also probing whether members of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club gained improper influence over VA contracts. 
  • The Trump administration has also taken credit for the Veterans Choice program, which allows veterans to see doctors outside the VA’s system, something President Trump said other presidents had tried to do for “45 years,” and that Sen. McCain had failed to get passed. The problem with boasting about that is it was President Obama who signed the bill that established the program. And McCain was one of the main negotiators who fought to get the bill passed.
  • Trump also promised that he would establish a White House hotline to take complaints about the VA: “I will pick up the phone and fix it myself if I have to.” Instead of a White House hotline, the VA outsourced one of its own hotlines to West Virginia, where according to a recent count, at least 11 percent of cases have not been resolved, meaning that the Trump administration has not kept its promise.

For more information on this topic or to talk to an expert, please contact Freedom Alexander Murphy at  or 202.796.9712.