WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing pivotal November elections, President Donald Trump is misrepresenting the history of African-American voting and exaggerating his influence in boosting income and controlling prescription drug prices.
He laments in campaign speeches on behalf of Republican candidates that blacks’ support for Democrats had become “habit,” having voted for them “for 100 years,” and insists his administration’s policies are changing that. In fact, most African-Americans were effectively blocked from the right to vote until 1965. Much of the income gains he claims for blacks and other minorities came during the Obama administration.
On drug costs, Trump says he is “bringing them down.” But few drugmakers have actually lowered prices as a result of his pressure.
And in remarks at the hot core of the debate over his new Supreme Court justice, Trump distorted the testimony of Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser in a mocking turn on a rally stage before the Senate elevated the judge to the high court on the weekend.
A look at the past week’s claims:
TRUMP, on black support for Democratic candidates in recent elections: “It’s only habit. It’s habit, because for 100 years, African-Americans have gone with Democrats.” — Kansas rally Saturday.
THE FACTS: No, black Americans did not primarily vote Democratic for 100 years, or anywhere close to it.
Most African-Americans for much of U.S. history were disenfranchised, then effectively deterred from voting via poll taxes and literacy tests until passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which outlawed racial discrimination in voting.
African-Americans who could vote before then generally backed Republican candidates until the 1932 election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His New Deal programs of economic relief won their support and helped spur a longer-term shift of black voting from Republican to Democratic.
The Voting Rights Act eliminated literacy tests, clamped down on poll taxes that the 24th Amendment had banned in federal elections a year earlier and required a number of mostly Southern states with a history of discrimination to get advance federal approval to make changes to their election laws. Before that, only an estimated 23 percent of voting-age blacks were registered nationally, says the Library of Congress , but by 1969 that had jumped to 61 percent.
TRUMP: “How does your African-American, how do you vote for somebody else? I’ve done more for them in two years… And their median income is the highest. But not only for African-Americans, for Asian.” — Minnesota rally Thursday.
THE FACTS: He’s wrong about median income now being the highest for African-Americans. He also exaggerates the economic gains he’s accomplished for blacks and Asian-Americans.
The median income last year for an African-American household was $40,258, according to the Census Bureau. That’s below a 2000 peak of $42,348 and also statistically no better than 2016, which was Democratic President Barack Obama’s last year in office.
Many economists view the continued economic growth since the middle of 2009, in Obama’s first term, as the primary explanation for recent hiring and income gains. More important, there are multiple signs that the racial wealth gap is now worsening and the administration appears to have done little, if anything, to address this problem specifically.
As to Asian-Americans, the median income for a typical household last year was $81,331. That’s no better than their median income of $83,182 in 2016.
Associated Press writers Linda Johnson in Trenton, New Jersey, and Paul Wiseman in Washington contributed to this report.