Black Unemployment Hits Historic Low. Should Trump Get Credit or Are We Getting Played?

By Jason Johnson, TheRoot.com

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

One thing that happens in a new relationship is that you start getting confused about who gets credit for what….

When it comes to politics, unlike relationships, cause and effect aren’t so clear. Did 9/11 happen because President George W. Bush screwed up or because President Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance? Did President Barack Obama have a weak economic recovery, or did Bush run out the back door, leaving him a dumpster fire?

Now that America is in a new relationship with a married man, President Donald Trump (it’s not his first time), we are again trying to figure out who deserves credit for what. African-American unemployment numbers are historically low in Trump’s first few months in office, but is that because Obama’s economy is still humming along, or did Trump somehow accidentally, not on purpose, manage to do something good for black America? The numbers suggest that it might be a little bit of both.

Starting this spring into the summer, African-American unemployment under Trump dropped to the lowest levels in almost 20 years. As of the end of July, the black-vs.-white employment gap is the smallest it’s been since April 2000, back when “Say My Name” was a new song, Dave Chappelle was just a skinny kid “Killing Them Softly,” and BlackPlanet.com was peak social media. Mind you, the 7.4 percent black unemployment rate is still higher than the 3.8 percent white unemployment rate, but considering how bad things were throughout most of the Great Recession, this is good news….

So does this mean that campaign-trail Trump was right all along? Black folks had nothing to lose by voting for him? That Trump, with the help of Ben Carson and Omarosa, is saving African Americans from devastation and despair? Can Donald Trump really take credit for all this magical economic change occurring around the nation for black folks?

Not really.

Trump taking credit for this economy is akin to a man bragging that his mediocre back rubs loosened up your shoulders, when your ex taught you yoga, was certified in Reiki and worked at Massage Envy. Trump isn’t necessarily screwing anything up, but this situation was already popping long before he showed up.

African-American unemployment was at 7.7 percent when Obama left office in January, a downward trend that had been moving along for the better part of 2016. Most economists would argue that no president really “owns” the economy until a good 12-18 months into his (or her) first term. Prior to that, you’re just managing what the last person left you….

The fact that Trump is attempting to take credit for an Obama economy that he trashed just a few months ago should come as no surprise to anyone who’s watched this man’s behavior over the last two years. Trump will continue to show up to black America, claiming that we’ve never had it this good, at least as long as it suits him. Eventually the Obama effect is going to wear off, and Trump will have to stand on his own economic relationship with black America. Which will make it abundantly clear, as if we didn’t already know, that Trump’s stimulus package for black America will be found lacking.

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Obama Breaks Down ‘Black Lives Matter’ During Panel on Criminal-Justice Reform

While calling for strong, effective and fair law enforcement, the president spoke extensively on the intersection between race and the criminal-justice system.

By , The Root

To President Barack Obama, the Black Lives Matter creed-turned-movement makes sense. Speaking on a panel on criminal justice, the president attempted to explain the difference between and relevancy of the BLM mantra versus the counter chants of “All lives matter.”

“I think everybody understands all lives matter,” the president said. “I think the reason that the organizers used the phrase ‘Black lives matter’ was not because they said they were suggesting nobody else’s lives matter; rather, what they were suggesting was, there is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that’s not happening in other communities. And that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address…”

President Barack Obama speaking at an event about criminal-justice reform on the White House campus. (Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski)

President Barack Obama speaking at an event about criminal-justice reform on the White House campus. (Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski)

“One of the ways of avoiding the politics of this and losing the moment is everybody just stepping back for a second and understanding that the African-American community is not just making this up, and it’s not just something being politicized; it’s real and there’s a history behind it.  And we have to take it seriously,” he insisted.

Still, the president made sure to give a nod to the tough job police officers face and the difficult decisions they often have to make, saying that it was imperative not to “paint with a broad brush, [and to] understand that the overwhelming majority of law enforcement is doing the right thing and wants to do the right thing…”

During the panel, Obama acknowledged that the goals for criminal-justice reform in the United States would have to include fairness—regardless of race, wealth and other identities; proportionality of punishment to crime; and the recognition that incarceration is not the only solution to reducing crime and violence in communities.

“If [incarceration is] the only tool…then we’re missing opportunities for us to create safer communities through drug diversion and treatment, for example, or through more effective re-entry programs, or getting to high school kids or middle school or elementary school kids earlier so that they don’t get in trouble in the first place, and how are we resourcing that,” the president said…

“I think it’s smart for us to start the debate around nonviolent drug offenders. You are right that that’s not going to suddenly halve our incarceration rate, but … if we do that right, and we are reinvesting in treatment, and we are reinvesting resources in police departments having more guys and gals on the street who are engaging in community policing, and that’s improving community relations, then that becomes the foundation upon which the public has confidence in potentially taking a future step and looking at sentencing changes down the road,” he added.

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Health Care Enrollment

By Jeffrey Young, HuffingtonPost.com

On the last day to sign up for Obamacare, evidence appears to be mounting that what started as a disaster may turn out a success. Monday is the deadline to enroll in health insurance for 2014 via the health insurance exchanges created by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and it’s clear that many waited until the last minute. The looming deadline and fear of the penalty for not getting covered has driven millions of people to the exchange websites, enrollment events and health insurance companies over the past few days.obama-health-care

HealthCare.gov and some state-run health insurance exchanges suffered software glitches and buckled under heavy demand Monday.

The final rush could push the total number of private insurance enrollments well past the 6 million figure touted by the Obama administration last week. Obamacare sign-ups may wind up closer to the 7 million originally predicted for the first year. (. . .)

Signing up the healthy and the young is critical to the health of the healthcare law. And based on anecdotal accounts from health insurance companies, the surge is also bringing along young adults in greater numbers.

“We’re definitely seeing some younger consumers, as our average age of an applicant is going down,” said Kurt Kossen, the vice president for retail marketing at Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp., which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Online insurance broker eHealth reported a similar trend last week. healthcare

In order to make premiums affordable in future years, insurers need healthier people to offset the high medical costs of older, sicker people who now have guaranteed access to coverage. Adults 18 to 34 years old made up one-quarter of nationwide enrollments through March 1, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, a proportion lower than the roughly 40 percent the White House is seeking.

Not everyone is so pleased with their new health plans. Households with incomes above four times the poverty limit, or about $95,400 for a family of four, don’t qualify for financial assistance and can face hundreds of dollars in premiums every month for even basic coverage. And many people who previously purchased their own coverage directly from insurance companies saw their policies canceled last year because they didn’t meet ACA standards, and had to replace them with plans that are often costlier because the mandated benefits are more generous. (. . .)

Friendly Medical professionalsHealthCare.gov also drew record demand Monday when 1.2 million users visited the website by noon Eastern Time. First-time users of the website weren’t able to create accounts for about an hour Monday afternoon and administrators twice activated the site’s “virtual waiting room” when the number of people trying to log in surpassed its capacity, which is estimated at 100,000 users at once. State-run exchange websites in places like California and Maryland also experienced some difficulties. Telephone call centers for the exchanges were swamped by consumers seeking help, as well.

Although Monday is the nominal deadline for anyone who doesn’t have health coverage to get insured this year, enrollments will continue through the coming weeks, since the Obama administration and most state-run health insurance exchanges are leaving the systems open for those who already started their applications but have not completed them by the end of the day. (. . .)

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