Baltimore IS on fire — and it HAS been for some time. We’ll get into specifics in a moment that bears this out. The last few days have found the President and Baltimore resident Congressman Elijah Cummings going after each other in the press. And it’s ugly.
It’s ugly, not because Democrats and their communications arm — the Mainstream Media — pipe in and all in unison cry “Trump is a racist! His attacks on Rep. Cummings and the city of Baltimore are racist! He’s a racist…..”
Racism is NOT Baltimore’s problem! Or is it?
Baltimore’s problem is not unique. In fact, large cities across the nation face the exact same problem. The problem is NOT that they need more money. The problem is the money they have that comes in total from taxpayers is NOT being used wisely. AND THERE’S NO ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE WASTE AND CORRUPTION THAT THOSE DOLLARS FUND!
The Problem’s Source
The source seems to be the plethora of money from the Feds to help Baltimore fix itself: fix its high crime rate, raging unemployment, incorrigible public education, homelessness, corruption in local government, etc. Baltimore’s political leadership can cry “foul” as loud as they want against the Trump Administration, but those cries fall on deaf ears. The federal government has buried Baltimore in free taxpayer dollars. And it began with President Obama.
President Barack Obama said, ”Massive investments in urban communities could make a difference right now.” Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings said, “We have to invest in our cities and our children.” And House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who also represents Maryland, said, “But we’re going to have to as a country invest if we’re going to have the kinds of communities we want.”
But the idea that we haven’t been “investing” in Baltimore is nonsense.
Federal and state money poured into the city for decades. From fiscal years 2003 to 2013 (the last year for which these reports are available), Baltimore received at least $2.4 billion in federal assistance and another $1.8 billion in state aid. The city also received roughly $1.8 billion in federal stimulus money. And this doesn’t count the billions of dollars received directly by the people who live in Baltimore through various social welfare programs.
Yet nearly a quarter of the people in the city still live in poverty, 65 percent above the national level. We’ve clearly been throwing a lot of money at poverty in Baltimore with very little (if any) positive results.
Part of the problem, unsurprisingly, is that the city does not make very good use of the money it receives.
Under Obama, Baltimore received $9.5 million in federal funds to deal specifically with the city’s growing homeless problem. But according to an audit by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city did not properly monitor the homelessness funds, paid providers according to a preset formula rather than actual expenditures, lost track of money in several instances, and paid city staffers based on estimates, not the actual time they spent on grant activities. The city ended up having to repay nearly a third of the money. Not to worry, though: Baltimore expects to receive another $20 million+ in homelessness assistance from the feds this year and EVERY year.
Similarly, the city may end up having to repay a federal education grant designed to help the city’s poorest schools, after an audit by the Department of Education found that much of the money was actually used for dinner cruises, makeovers, and meals.
And a new audit of a city program to help low-income families with heating and energy bills found that nearly 20 percent of payments were unsupported by paperwork, and others had missing or incorrect information. Some bills were paid multiple times, while still other payments were made to families that didn’t live in the city.
But it’s not just a question of waste, fraud, and abuse. Even when the money was spent as intended, it has done little good.
Remember that $1.4 billion in federal stimulus spending? $1.4 Billion: how many thousands of jobs should that have created? Well, according to the government’s official website Recovery.gov, that spending generated just 64 permanent jobs. (you do the math)
The Washington Post reported how the federal and state governments spent more than $130 million rejuvenating the Sandtown area in Baltimore where Freddie Gray was arrested. Barely half of the working-age population is employed, according to a recent report from the Justice Policy Institute and the Prison Policy Initiative. The neighborhood lacks a supermarket or a single restaurant, not even a fast-food outlet. More than 60 percent of people over 25 have less than a high school diploma, and almost half of current high school students are chronically absent. Life expectancy is 10 years lower than the national average.
Baltimore spends $16,578 a year per pupil in schools, roughly 52 percent above the national average, and the fourth most of any major city. The majority of that money comes not from the city itself but from the state and federal governments. Yet more than a quarter of Baltimore students fail to graduate from high school. Fewer than half of Baltimore high school students passed the last Maryland High School Assessment test. SAT scores for Baltimore students are more than 100 points below the national average.
Why do we think it will be any different this time if we simply throw more money at the problem? Worse, the focus on spending more money distracts us from those things we know actually do lift people out of poverty.
There are few better routes out of poverty than a job. Fewer than 3 percent of those working full time live in poverty. Yet Maryland has one of the most anti-business tax and regulatory climates in the nation. And Baltimore adds its own layer of excessive taxes and regulatory bureaucracy.
Education reform is another key to lifting people out of poverty. Drop out of school and you are likely to be poor. Graduate from college and you won’t be. Yet, Maryland radically restricts parental choice and teacher accountability.
And any effective anti-poverty program will try to reduce out-of-wedlock birth and single parenting. Households headed by a single mother are more than five times more likely to be poor compared with married-couple families, but in Baltimore two-thirds of the births in the city are to unmarried mothers, and almost 60 percent of households are headed by single parents. Yet our welfare system continues to discourage family formation.
Of course, we need to do something to lift the people of Baltimore and other struggling cities out of poverty. But that something is not continuing to throw good money after bad.
Baltimore’s Current “Numbers”
Real estate: The median home value in Baltimore is $113,500, according to Zillow. Baltimore home values have declined 3.2 percent over the past year and Zillow predicts they will fall 4.2 percent within the next year. The median list price per square foot in Baltimore is $144, which is lower than the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson Metro average of $190. The median rent price in Baltimore is $1,400, which is lower than the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson Metro median of $1,650.
Jobs: The unemployment rate in Baltimore city was at 5.10 percent in May. Compare that to Maryland state’s 3.8 percent unemployment rate in June, while the national average sits at 3.7 percent.
Income: The typical household income in Baltimore was $46,641 in 2017, while the average family in the U.S. saw annual earnings of $57,652, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Poverty: According to Census Bureau data, the poverty rate in Charm City came in at 22.4 percent in 2017, compared to the national average of 12.3 percent.
City leadership ranking: Baltimore ranked as No. 129 out of 150 — (or 21 spots from the bottom of the list) — in WalletHub’s list of 2019’s best- and worst-run cities in America.
Crime: The city also took the No. 3 spot on 24/7 Wall Street’s recent list of the most dangerous cities in America. The No. 1 spot went to St. Louis, Missouri, while Detroit, Michigan took the No. 2 spot.
Retail sales per capita: In 2012, Baltimore rang in $5,871 in retail sales per capita, compared to the national average of $13,443, according to the Census Bureau.
The Cummings/Trump Feud
It has been brutal! It is no secret that Rep. Cummings as head of the House Oversight Committee has steadily attacked President Trump personally and professionally since 2016. Mr. Trump ratcheted up the feud last week with a series of tweets excoriating the deplorable conditions in Baltimore placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of the MD Congressman. It’s not surprising that Cummings has continually fired back in like kind.
But what is shameful is that the allegations made by the President were not original. In fact, Trump’s statements of Baltimore being “rat-infested,” and in “horrible condition” have been previously touted by numerous others in politics — and not Republicans — several of which are Maryland resident politicians. In fact, the Baltimore mayor (who recently resigned) stated herself that the city was rat-infested. Of course, Democrats and members of the Mainstream media immediately turned Trump’s criticism of Baltimore into pure racism. Why? Cummings is African-American, so any criticism of any kind of him professionally, the city of Baltimore or the state of Maryland could certainly be driven only by racism, right?
But here’s a word for Mr. Cummings, all other Democrats, and Baltimore residents and politicians: Baltimore IS burning! It’s on fire with racism, crime, poverty, poor public education, healthcare, much homelessness, and government waste and corruption.
Let’s end this today with a topic that is political, personal, divisive, and controversial at best: Racism. The cries of “Racist” have been hurled at President Trump nonstop over his very visible public attacks against the conditions in Baltimore. Of course, he has labeled as primarily responsible Baltimore’s leading federal advocate and resident, Representative Elijah Cummings. The Democrat heavyweight wields significant power in D.C. He’s Chairman of the House Oversight Committee which supervises pretty much every department in the Executive Branch of government. And in his gun sights has been this president who Mr. Cummings detests vehemently and never misses an opportunity to tell those on the other end of a network microphone and tv camera. Cummings didn’t just recently start his Trump attacks. And they’ve been extraordinarily crude and derisive since the 2016 election.
Naturally joining Mr. Cummings in his cries of racism against this president are most Democrats in federal and state offices and, of course, the fawning media. And this topic is what we will close this story with today.
Elijah Cummings and the rest of American Democrats are either innocently or purposely missing what’s really going on in this spat between Trump and Cummings. And what’s going on has NOTHING to do with racism. Further, it is beyond disingenuous for Cummings, all these Democrat presidential candidates, House and Senate Democrat leaders, and EVERY Democrat who has joined in the mob cries of racism. Why is that? Pay close attention to what we are saying:
- First, Mr. Trump is by far not the first to reference the rat infestation in Baltimore. In fact, Baltimore’s mayor — an African American female — stated just months ago she could smell the rats infesting the city;
- Secondly, Mr. Cummings in all of his hate-filled attacks against President Trump has NEVER sought actual and real and specific federal government assistance. In fact, in the Freddie Gray demonstrations-turned-riots, Baltimore made very clear they did not want federal help. And regarding additional federal financial support, Cummings has been virtually quiet. Why is that?
- It could be because Department of Housing and Urban Development regional administrator Lynne Patton appeared just days ago on Fox News and took note of just how much federal money has been steered into Cummings’ district, which is nearly 53% percent black.“President Trump has given $16 billion in 2018 alone to Elijah Cummings’ district in federal grants,” Patton explained. “We have given more money in homeless funds to Baltimore than the last administration. We have given more money in ‘community development grants.’”Patton then asked, “What are you actually doing with the money so that it benefits residents in the community for once instead of deep-pocket, crooked politicians?”
It’s blatantly clear that what is being heard from the White House about Baltimore certainly CANNOT be initiated by racism. Say what you want about the President’s tweets, his “in-your-face” response to the myriad of personal and political attacks from all sides, screaming about his insistence for federal law enforcement persons to do exactly what they are supposed to do: enforce the law! By the way, every one of those federal lawmakers — EVERYONE — with one hand raised and one on a Bible pledged to support and defend the Constitution — which is the laws of the United States that members of Congress crafted, agreed to, and were signed into law.
How is it OK for ANY of them to want laws of the country to NOT be enforced! And should they not expect this president — ANY president — to see to it that those who serve in the Department of Justice do just that: enforce U.S. laws? These 2020 Democrat presidential candidates are to a person advocating for illegal immigrants AND American citizens to violate existing federal laws. And many of them actually serve in the House and Senate where any laws they don’t like and think should NOT be enforced can be changed!
The problem today is not Elijah Cummings and is not Donald Trump. And it’s NOT racism. No, Donald Trump is NOT a racist. He has a fifty + year business reputation that dramatically evidences exactly the opposite. And think about this: one of the certainties in the life of every bigot and racist is that they not only verbally attack people of other races vehemently, but their attacks are also always the denigration of them specifically because of their skin color. Trump has NEVER done that. And for anyone that disagrees, feel free to send me specific examples — quotations and/or video proof — and we’ll certainly post it here with an apology.
So what is the problem?
When people scream that others are racists without citing specific examples that prove their allegations, what they are doing IS the real problem! Racism IS a serious problem. There are many ways to deal with it. And screaming ad nauseum that someone is a racist is NOT one of them.
But it comes to this: “If” Mr. Trump is a racist, why would he authorize his Department of Urban Development to invest $16 billion in Baltimore for its many issues in just one year? Secondly, if he IS a racist, nothing anyone says will change that.
In case you’ve forgotten, here are the 3 Websters definitions of racism: The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others; Discrimination or prejudice based on race; The belief that each race has distinct and intrinsic attributes.
Go ahead: send some specific examples that prove Mr. Trump is racist.
In the meantime, do you want to know what really is wrong in Baltimore? The cause certainly is not money. The cause is poor planning, poor leadership, and virtually NO accountability for local and state government. How else can a city receive several billion federal dollars specifically to address those issues followed by $16 billion more and achieve NO POSITIVE RESULTS?
Rep. Cummings, other Democrats, and the Media can cry “Racist!” all they want at the President. But they’re saying that does not make it true. And even if it IS true, how does that cause all the crap in Baltimore? It’s been happening for many years before a Trump presidency.
(I apologize: I said “all the crap” and should have said “all the rats” instead. Sorry!)