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Donald Trump’s Not So Great Relationship With “The Blacks”

In an episode early in Donald Trump’s career, his New York real estate company was sued by the federal government for discriminating against potential black renters. After a lengthy legal battle, it ultimately agreed to wide-ranging steps to offer rentals to nonwhites.

The little-remembered case provides crucial context for the current discussion centering on Trump and race. The celebrity businessman made news last month when he declared, “I have a great relationship with the blacks. I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks.”

He has recently come under fire for attacks on President Obama that critics have described as racially tinged. CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, for example, said Wednesday there is  “an ugly strain of racism” in Trump’s recent (baseless) accusations that President Obama should not have been admitted to Columbia. Also yesterday, Trump told a black reporter, unprompted, “Look I know you are a big Obama fan.”

The discrimination case began in the earliest days of Trump’s career, when he was still in his 20s.

Fred Trump, Donald’s father, was, unlike his son, a self-made man. He made his fortune by building thousands of units of middle-class housing in Brooklyn and Queens. But in the early 1970s, Donald was made president of the family company.

One of Donald’s first challenges came in October 1973, when the Justice Department hit the Trump Organization with a major discrimination suit for violating the Fair Housing Act. The Times reported:

… the Government contended that Trump Management had refused to rent or negotiate rentals “because of race and color.” It also charged that the company had required different rental terms and conditions because of race and that it had misrepresented to blacks that apartments were not available.

The journalist Gwenda Blair reported in her 2005 Trump biography that while Fred Trump had sought to combat previous discrimination allegations through “quiet diplomacy,” Donald decided to go on the offensive. He hired his friend Roy Cohn, the celebrity lawyer and former Joseph McCarthy aide, to countersue the government for making baseless charges against the company. They sought a staggering $100 million in damages.

A few months after the government filed the suit, Trump gave a combative press conference at the New York Hilton in which he went after the Justice Department for being too friendly to welfare recipients. He “accused the Justice Department of singling out his corporation because it was a large one and because the Government was trying to force it to rent to welfare recipients,” the Times reported. Trump added that if welfare recipients were allowed into his apartments in certain middle-class outer-borough neighborhoods, there would be a “massive fleeing from the city of not only our tenants, but communities as a whole.”

A federal judge threw out Trump’s countersuit a month later, calling it a waste of “time and paper.”

Writes Blair in her book:

Donald testified repeatedly that he had nothing to do with renting apartments, although in an application for a broker’s license filed at the same time he said that he was in charge of all rentals.

In 1975, Trump ultimately came to a far-reaching agreement with the DOJ in which he and the company did not admit guilt but agreed not to discriminate and to take steps to open its housing stock to more nonwhites. The company agreed to submit a weekly list of vacancies to the Urban League, which would produce qualified applicants for a portion of all vacancies.

But it didn’t end there. In 1978, the government filed a motion for supplemental relief, charging that the Trump company had not complied with the 1975 agreement. The government alleged that the Trump company “discriminated against blacks in the terms and conditions of rental, made statements indicating discrimination based on race and told blacks that apartments were not available for inspection and rental when, in fact, they are,” the Times reported. Trump again denied the charges.

It’s not clear what happened with the government’s request for further action (and compensation for victims), but in 1983, a fair-housing activist cited statistics that two Trump Village developments had white majorities of at least 95 percent.

At the very least, the case is something for reporters to ask about next time Trump touts his “great relationship with the blacks.”

By: Justin Elliott, Salon War Room, April 28, 2011

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Bigotry, Birthers, Class Warfare, DOJ, Donald Trump, Government, Middle Class, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Birther’s Guide To Staying Relevant In A Post “Long Form” World

So you’ve spent the last few years constantly asking “where’s the birth certificate,” and now you have an answer. Do you give up? Do you stop constantly emailing journalists and bloggers accusing them of being part of the cover-up? Do you quit commenting on FreeRepublic? Return your WorldNetDaily survival seed bank unopened? No! Of course not!

Professional Birthers have expanded their investigations beyond the question of “where was the president born,” because even before today it was quite obvious that he was born in Hawaii. True birtherism — not the lazy, low-information “I heard he was born in Kenya or something” birtherism of amateurs — has already gone baroque, asserting that Barack Obama never had or possibly lost his American citizenship for reasons that go far beyond the simple fact of his “birthplace.” As Justin Elliott already reported, the conspiracists have other conspiracies developed and ready to explore. And that is how birtherism and its associated theories will live on.

The certificate is a forgery

Ahem. Some FreeRepublic commenters are already on the case:

“Look at the document…it is superimposed on a different background that contains Onaka’s signature (hint: look at the curling on the left-hand margin of the text fields).”

“In 1961, blacks were called negro, colored, darkie, and several other less accepted names, but they were NEVER called ‘African’ as Urkel’s father was in this document. An American adult in 1961 would no more have called a negro ‘African’ than they would have called a homosexual ‘gay’. That alone is enough to raise huge questions about this document.”

“The Security Paper is a Photoshop. If you look at the full form, the ‘Security Paper’ is a background, the ‘Certificate of Live Birth’ appears like it was scanned from a book, the paper made to be transparent – and the ink and borders were then laid on a backdrop with the “Security Paper” background.”

His “African” father disqualifies him

One popular theory has it that “natural born citizen” does not mean what you think it means. Apparently, a “natural born citizen” has to have two American parents. So while Barack Obama has definitively proven that he’s a “native-born citizen,” he is still not a “natural born citizen,” thanks to his father being African. (This would also disqualify a number of past presidents, including Woodrow Wilson, Andrew Jackson, and Chester Arthur, but no one would miss them.)

Something about British citizenship and the Kenyan constitution

I dunno, I don’t really get this one. Barack Obama had dual U.S./British citizenship which became U.S./Kenyan citizenship which then became Kenyan citizenship because he never renounced it.

He lost his citizenship

As WND has written: “Several court cases challenging Obama’s presidential eligibility have argued he gave up his U.S. citizenship in Indonesia and used an Indonesian passport to travel to Pakistan in the early 1980s. Indonesia does not allow dual citizenship.

Still a secret Muslim

One big hope of the long-form birthers was that Obama’s birth certificate would finally reveal that he is a secret Muslim. It does not reveal that, but there’s no reason they can’t still say it.

How did he get into Columbia?

Donald Trump already brought this one up, but the new frontier in questioning the president’s legitimacy is asking about his college years. Because, in their minds, there is simply no way a black man gets into a good school without receiving special favors or somehow cheating, the Schoolers are developing weird, complex theories about how Barack Obama transfered from Occidental to Columbia (and then got accepted into Harvard Law). The new rallying cry will be “release the transcripts.”

This will probably be the most popular of the new avenues of birtherism, though may not bleed into the mainstream discourse with as much ease as the birth certificate stuff, because it has no bearing whatsoever on the president’s qualifications to be president. Schoolerism is simply about proving that the president’s a phony who duped the world with his hoodoo, “the biggest affirmative action baby in history” in the detestable words of Mickey Kaus.

In the imaginings of the crowd desperately searching for evidence that Barack Obama is who they wish he was, the president was obviously, transparently unqualified to go to an elite university, because just look at him.

So birtherism will survive. It will mutate and adapt. There’s no satisfying some people.

By: Alex Pareene, Salon War Room, April 27,2011

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Bigotry, Birthers, Politics, President Obama, Public, Racism, Right Wing | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOP Medicare Proposal Doesn’t Work Like Members of Congress’ Health Care As Republicans Claim

The Center for American Progress has previously pointed out that the House Republican budget for fiscal year 2012 forces future beneficiaries out of Medicare into more expensive private plans. One of the ways Republicans are trying to sell their Medicare proposal is by claiming that beneficiaries would “be enrolled in the same kind of health-care program that members of Congress enjoy.” That claim is false. In fact, if the rate of growth under this Medicare proposal were applied to federal employees’ most popular health option, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Standard Option, federal workers, including members of Congress, with family coverage would have to pay another $3,330 for the care they enjoy today. Those with individual coverage would have to pay another $1,555.

Most federal workers receive their health coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan, or FEHBP. The government contributes a portion of their health premium. That portion is set by law and applied to the weighted average of actual premiums charged in any given year. Beneficiaries make up the rest of the cost.

The Republican budget replaces the traditional fee-for-service Medicare for future beneficiaries with a voucher to private insurance companies that is established on very different terms. Unlike FEHBP, which has a consistent government contribution based on actual premiums charged in any given year, the amount of the voucher is determined independent of actual premiums. Its growth is instead tied to the rate of the consumer price index for all urban consumers, or CPI-U. Because health costs have typically increased faster than inflation, the level of government support from the voucher would become a lower share of actual premium costs over time. In other words, Medicare beneficiaries would be left holding the bag.

What would happen if FEHBP operated like the GOP Medicare proposal?

We examined what would happen if FEHBP had operated like the Republican Medicare proposal over the last decade. We used data from the Office of Personnel and Management to look at the annual premiums for federal workers enrolled in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan (Standard Family and Standard Individual). We chose this plan because nearly 60 percent of those enrolled in FEHBP have Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the Standard Option is the most popular FEHBP plan. We increased government support for the individual and family plans by the rate of growth in the CPI-U index from 2002 to 2011. We then compared the difference between the government’s share and the actual total premium in each year—which is the amount the beneficiary would pay—under the Republican proposal and the real FEHBP.

The result: A typical federal worker, or member of Congress, enrolled in family coverage in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Standard Option, would have had to pay an additional $3,330.36 for the same level of coverage they have today. Those with individual coverage would have had to pay $1,555 more.

By: Nicole Cafarella, Payment Reform Manager and Policy Analyst and Tony Clark, Policy Analyst, Center for American Progress, April 27, 2011

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Congress, Consumers, Government, Health Care Costs, Health Reform, Medicare, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sorry Gov Walker, Wisconsin Pension System Is Nation’s Most Solvent

Wisconsin’s budget may be in a hole, but the state’s pension system is among the healthiest in the nation.

In fact, the Badger State was one of just two states to fully fund its public employee pension in 2009, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pew Center on the States. New York was the other.

Although nationally there was at least a $1.26 trillion gap in 2009 between what states have promised in public employee retirement benefits and what they have set aside, Wisconsin stands out as a leader in managing its liabilities for both pension and health benefits over the long term, the Pew report concluded. The shortfall is 26 percent greater than it was in 2008.

Pew researchers attribute the gap to unwise decisions by retirement benefits fund officials and the Great Recession that whacked pension fund investments. In all, 31 states were below the recommended 80 percent funding level for their pension plans in 2009, compared with 22 states that fell short of that threshold the previous year.

“Over the last decade, it was all too common for state leaders to skip or shortchange their annual retirement contributions and increase retiree benefits without checking the price tag or figuring out how to pay the larger, long-term bill,” said Susan Urahn, managing director for the Pew Center on the States. “Now, policymakers in many states are taking a long overdue look at how they have managed, or failed to manage, the considerable costs for public employees’ retirement benefits. Even in states like New York and Wisconsin, where pension systems are well-funded, governors have sought policy changes aimed at reducing their pension liabilities.”

The report was released at a time when Wisconsin sits at the epicenter of state budget battles across the country as governors are focusing on public employee benefits to cut costs and balance budgets. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ignited a firestorm with his “budget repair” proposal that strips public employees of many of their collective bargaining rights and requires them to contribute more of their income toward their retirement benefits. Several states followed with similar proposals, fueling a debate over the role of pension systems in the financial crisis in the states.

At a Capitol Hill forum Tuesday sponsored by the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank, the consensus among panelists was pensions are not to blame for states’ fiscal woes. One panelist, Eli Lehrer, vice president of the Heartland Institute, said given the health of Wisconsin’s pension fund, Walker would be wise to focus his budget balancing effort elsewhere.

“The pension system in Wisconsin is fully funded,” Lehrer said. “As a budget focus, I think he’s better off expending his political capital somewhere else.”

Andrew Biggs, a pension expert at the American Enterprise Institute, said just because Wisconsin’s pension fund is solvent doesn’t mean it should be off-limits.

“It could be well-funded and still be a drain on the budget,” Biggs said.

Pew researcher Stephen Fehr said retirement benefit costs for all states continue to rise, and while states like New York and Wisconsin should be commended for maintaining their funding obligations amid hard times, they face financial strains.

“They don’t have a pension crisis, but on the other hand they do have some pressures as all states do when it comes to figuring out how do we pay our bills,” Fehr said.

New York and Wisconsin have fulfilled their pension fund obligations regardless of the economic times, Fehr said.

By: Larry Bivins,, April 27, 2011

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Collective Bargaining, Gov Scott Walker, Governors, Politics, Public Employees, States, Wisconsin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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