What President Trump Means for Philly
We’re deep into the post-Election Day hangover, and the sky, which hung over the city like a sunless gray blanket all day, has finally gone dark. Might as well start thinking about what some of president-elect Donald Trump’s policies will mean for Philadelphia.
Let’s start with the economy. A Pew Research Center poll in July found that 84 percent of registered voters had named the economy as their top concern. (Ironically, a month later, a separate Pew Charitable Trusts poll only found 14 percent of Philly residents felt jobs and the economy was their primary worry.)
Trump has promised to create 25 million jobs during the next 10 years, but his website offers little in the way of anything resembling a point-by-point plan on how he’ll accomplish that goal. There’s a paragraph that gives passing mention to a “pro-growth tax plan, a new regulatory framework, an America-First trade policy, an unleashed American energy plan, and the ‘penny plan.'” It’s safe to assume people here would be interested in job creation; the city’s unemployment rate sat at 6.4 percent in June.
But if you try to dig deeper by clicking “Read Donald J. Trump’s Plan to Create 25 Million Jobs, here,” you’re redirected to a page that solicits $10, $25, $50 and $100 donations against a backdrop of Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, celebrating next to three words: THANK YOU AMERICA. A link inviting you to read comments Trump made in Monessen, Pa., about the economy just sends you back here:
So what will Trump’s job creation plans mean for Philly?
Verdict: Reply hazy. Try again later.
Let’s move on to an issue that’s of deep concern to hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians: education. Here, we have a better sense of what Trump might try to accomplish, and how it could affect the city. (Spoiler: It ain’t good.)
Trump has said he thinks the U.S. Department of Education “can be largely eliminated,” a move that could jeopardize the roughly $15 billion in Title I funds that largely go to schools that educate disadvantaged children. Trump’s website lays out other priorities, like devoting “$20 billion towards school choice … [and] giv[ing] states the option to allow these funds to follow the student to the public or private school they attend.” States that have private school choice, magnet schools and charter laws would be prioritized for grant distribution.
Two clunky bullet points address the country’s student debt epidemic by mentioning a desire to work with Congressional leaders on “reforms to ensure universities are making a good faith effort to reduce the cost of college and student debt in exchange for the federal tax breaks and dollars.”
There’s also a link that will take you to more in-depth comments Trump made in Cleveland about his education policies. Let’s see where that leads:
Oh, right. That again.
Possible cuts to Title I funding “would have a devastating impact on schools in cities like Philadelphia, where the majority of the school district is considered high-poverty,” said City Councilwoman Helen Gym, who has long fought for better education funding. “We rely on that funding for a whole host of services, programs, staffing and resource materials. All of those things are potentially on the chopping block.”
Gym finds Trump’s comments about eliminating the Department of Education particularly chilling. “I don’t think he understands what the Department of Education actually does,” she said, adding that she worries that the agency’s Office of Civil Rights — which handles matters involving the rights of children who have disabilities, language barriers, or come from diverse religious backgrounds — could be imperiled if Trump takes a wrecking ball to the system.
What kind of impact could Trump’s education plans have on the city?
Verdict: Outlook is not so good.
The last area we’ll examine today — because, quite frankly, it’s still way too early to know how a Trump administration will function, or who will end up calling most of policy shots at the end of the day — is one that probably received the most attention during the presidential race: immigration.
Trump famously vowed to create a “deportation force” to remove 11 million undocumented immigrants from the country; build a “great, great wall” on the country’s border with Mexico — and get Mexican officials to pay for its construction; and ban Muslims from entering the country (he later changed his wording slightly, promising to just ban people “from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism”).
On his website, Trump promises to “end” sanctuary cities — Philadelphia is one — and to “select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in the U.S.” and “vet applicants to ensure they support America’s values, institutions and people …”
There’s also a link that promises more information on Trump’s “10 Point Plan to Put America First.” So what do we have —
For Christ’s sake.
City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez fielded messages from anxious constituents as Trump piled up Electoral College votes late Tuesday night. “There’s a sense of fear,” she said. “Everything we’ve worked for — the World Heritage City [designation], the sanctuary city status — is in jeopardy. It only takes a couple of regulatory changes that can be made on the federal level to really set us back. So we should be concerned.”
Quiñones-Sánchez said she recently visited Israel for the first time, and was struck by the fear that seemed to inhabit people as they went about their days. She recognized a similar level of anxiety in the voices of those who reached out to her this morning, after Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 presidential race.
“I don’t know how we’ll advocate now without creating a sense of ‘Them vs. Us’ in a very magnified way,” she said. “How do you strategize and get this guy to do the right things?”
Philly has already seen a spate of disturbing vandalism in the wake of Trump’s victory: Nazi-inspired graffiti appeared on a storefront at Broad and Wharton, a woman found “Black Bitch” and “Trump Rules” spray-painted on her car in South Philly, and someone threw a rock through the window of a Muslim family’s home in the suburbs.
Could Trump’s immigration rhetoric create misery in Philly?
Verdict: Without a doubt.
Follow @dgambacorta on Twitter.