CAP Action Memo: Trump’s Repeated Falsehoods on Criminal Justice and Other Broken Promises to North Carolina Families

Washington, D.C. — On Friday, President Donald Trump will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit at Central Piedmont Community College. He is expected to defend his thin record on criminal justice reform as well as tout the so-called success of opportunity zones, which were included in the massive tax giveaway to the wealthy that Trump signed into law at the end of 2017. 

In his State of the Union address, President Trump touted the signing of the First Step Act—a bipartisan federal sentencing and prison reform bill—and portrayed himself as a champion for criminal justice reform. However, Trump’s claims to be a criminal justice reformer do not match the administration’s record. Under his administration, the U.S. Department of Justice has regularly undermined the efforts of the First Step Act by: 

  • Arguing in court against people eligible for sentence reductions
  • Prohibiting federal investigations into unconstitutional policing
  • Underfunding the programs created under the First Step Act

At the summit, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson will join President Trump to discuss opportunity zones—areas designated for preferential tax treatment for investors and development. 

In the Charlotte area, 17 neighborhoods have been designated as opportunity zones, causing residents and community activists to worry that the redevelopment efforts will lead to increased property values that could displace Black residents. In fact, critics of opportunity zones say that the Trump administration’s multibillion-dollar tax incentives that are supposed to help cities and low-income areas—which Trump has been known to describe as disgusting and rodent infestedactually do more to benefit wealthy financiers, including members of President Trump’s inner circle and family. 

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

Profits and wages

Promise: “I will [be] the greatest jobs President that God ever created. … [O]ur poorer citizens will get new jobs and higher pay and new hope for their life.” – Donald Trump, October 5, 2016

Reality: 

  • In January 2020, IBM announced that it would lay off more than 300 people in Research Triangle Park.
    • IBM paid zero in federal income taxes in 2018 and took advantage of several new deductions and credits in the Trump administration’s tax law that allowed them to claim the government owed it $342 million in 2018. In other words IBM had an effective tax rate of -68% after the new tax legislation came into effect.
  • The president threatened to veto the U.S. House of Representatives effort to increase the federal minimum wage for the first time in 10 years. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25.  
  • Currently, a student working full time at a minimum-wage job would have to devote their entire salary for two years to pay for a four-year degree at East Carolina University; in-state tuition for four years costs more than $28,000, not counting books and room and board.
  • The Trump administration’s economic policies are delivering huge giveaways to the wealthy at the expense of North Carolina families.

Health care

Promise: “[W]e can repeal and replace Obamacare, and save health care for every family in North Carolina.” – Donald Trump in Raleigh, North Carolina, November 7, 2016

Reality: The Trump administration is trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the courts with no replacement.

  • 3.9 million North Carolinians with preexisting conditions will lose protections under ACA repeal.
  • 503,000 North Carolinians will lose their health coverage under ACA repeal.
  • The annual premium increase for the average North Carolina family was $4,550.
  • The Trump administration launched an all-out attack on health care by trying to repeal and sabotage the ACA. 

Manufacturing jobs 

Promise: “We are going to start making things in North Carolina again.” – Donald Trump in Fletcher, North Carolina, October 21, 2016

Reality: Trump’s trade war by tweets is threatening North Carolina factories.

  • Experts predict that close to 180,000 American jobs will be lostincluding close to 13,000 jobs in North Carolina and many more in the U.S. manufacturing sector—as a result of the Trump administration’s erratic steel and aluminum trade policies.
  • Three North Carolina manufacturing hubs—Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte—are among the top 50 hardest-hit communities from the Trump administration’s erratic trade policies.
  • More than 400 workers were laid off at two manufacturing plants in the Charlotte region: one that makes fire extinguishers and another that makes flash drives.
  • The Trump administration’s tax law gave big corporations hundreds of billions in tax breaks, but it has had virtually no effect on hiring or investment in factories in North Carolina or across the country.

Student debt

Promise: “First, we will lower the cost of college and solve the student loan crisis. It’s a crisis.” – Donald Trump, October 13, 2016 

Reality: North Carolina student debt is skyrocketing under Trump. His administration’s inaction on the student loan debt crisis hurts North Carolina families.

  • 597,300 North Carolinians owe more than $20,000 in student loans.
  • 49.9 percent of borrowers in North Carolina owe more than $20,000.
  • 44.4 percent of borrowers in North Carolina are older than age 35. 

Despite the president’s promise to solve the student loan crisis, the administration has made things harder for borrowers by trying to cap the amount of loans they can take on as well as shrinking the number of repayment plans available to students.

Taxes

Promise: “We will massively cut taxes for the middle class.” – Donald Trump in Wilmington, North Carolina, November 5, 2016

Reality: Eighty-three percent of the benefits from the Trump administration’s $2 trillion tax cut go to corporations and the top 1 percent. Many North Carolina families are getting stuck with the bill.

  • 361,520 North Carolina families paid more in taxes last year due to the 2017 tax bill.
  • $44,760 is the average tax cut for the wealthiest 1 percent.
  • $573 is the average tax cut for the bottom 80 percent. 

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