tv After Words Jason Riley The Black Boom CSPAN June 30, 2022 5:41am-6:37am EDT
everyone today. we have a json riley as a guest who's written a phenomenal new book on the progress of african americans during the trump administration and welcome jason. thank you for having me. jason you have a condom on unusual perspective many times. so wondering if you can sort of begin to give the viewers here sort of a field for what in your past brought you to be because one of the well-known conservative commentator as wall street journal sort of what you influencers were getting there.
well, i i joined the college newspaper back in the early 1990s when i was in school and that sort of where i got the political the political bug. i i discovered writers thinkers intellectuals like thomas sole and shelby steele and glenn lowry and they had a huge impact on my my intellectual development and on my thinking about race in particular as well as economics and politics and and some other issues. so so that's where i got my start. i i interned at usa today during college and then about six months after graduation. i joined the wall street journal and and i've been writing for that newspaper ever since so jason, i think many viewers and readers of the wall street journal were kind of impressed with the journal editorial page separating the issues of some
people talking about trump's personality from the issues of a trump policies. can you kind of give us a little bit before we get into the substance of the book? can you kind of give us a little bit of insight behind the scenes sort of how that emerged? well, i i think what you saw there on the from the editorial page editors were journalists who were doing their job their job was to cover this president the way they had covered previous presidents in terms of his analyzing his policies what he what he set out to do whether he accomplished it and and what kind of impact it it had and and the the journal did do plenty of criticizing of president trump's character and twitter feed and and all the rest, but they did not let that get in the way of carrying out their journalistic duties and i think that's where a lot of other mainstream journalists aired and went wrong
and i think subsequently have have lost the trust of a lot of their their viewers or readers listeners or what have you they decided that donald trump should be covered differently and and really not so much covered as resisted. you know, this is a and this was something new, you know, this republican presidents are used to a left leaning washington, press corps that that's nothing new, but that press corps went much further with with donald trump. and i and i really think it was journalistic malpractice the way they behaved in in thinking that that there i their job was to take down this this president not just merely cover him. yeah, i think that's important because the book and i will get to the substance of the book very briefly, but the book really the sort of main message of the book got buried in the mainstream media, obviously because people didn't want to
talk about, you know, positive policies successes, right? but but my my view of i don't know if you from the journalistic side have a different view but my view of the president why they obviously they were upset at his personality. that's one issue, but also think i don't know if you agree. that by going on twitter and communicating directly with voters on twitter. he basically broke up the monopoly of the press. and communicating with voters. so if you're republican president in the past with their snakes and reagan or bush you basically have to go through the press to communicate with voters, but he bypassed the press with twitter which i thought was very useful. do you think that kind of the monopoly break up of communication with voters was one and then an additional reason i should say why they were so hostile. um perhaps perhaps and it was unprecedented at his use of
social media and i think you're you'll see presidents going forward do this. but with trump it was especially important as you said a lot of democratic presidents can usually depend on on the press to tell the the good news coming out of their administration republican presidents not so much and with donald trump almost never they were extremely reluctant to to to cover his political victories his political wins or paint anything he was doing in a positive light. and again, i think this was an idiot an ideologically motivated, press corps that was committed to presenting president trump as a bigot as a racist as someone who's a policies would harm the prospects of low-income minority groups in this country. and as i write in the book, when it turned out that his policies were not doing that the press simply refused to tell that
story. they played it down or they ignored it entirely and that's one of the reasons i wanted to write this book. it's a very underreported story that i'm telling here what was going on in terms of the the economic gains of disadvantage groups in this country. it was quite remarkable and the point is not i mean the objective here is not to score partisan points. it is to tell a story about what types of policies produce the types of outcomes. we'd all like to see less unemployment less poverty more economic growth less income inequality. that's what we were saying under donald trump. i think it had a lot to do with the policies he put in place and it's a story again that the press by and large refuse to tell because they were so opposed to this. and and did not want to present anything. he did in a positive light.
yes, so let's get get to the substance of the book. you already alluded sort of the main punchlines of it. i think you know, i was the team in the white house was very isolated. we we didn't see the lack of discussion of these results because we essentially produced a lot of them throughout the the administration's term in particular if the viewers are interested. there's something called the annual report of the council of economic advisor the economic report of the president that outlines a lot of the facts that riley jason is basically discussing which he basically gets to in a much clearer way. i think that we did sometimes but it has some adana line facts if people are interested. so let me go to the book. is a fair summary of your book essentially that the progress of african americans during the period 17 to 19 before corona hit. was mainly due to the economic
policies in place not to immigration policies and not to the state policy. so the federal economic policies and enacted as opposed to immigration policy and minimum wage policy, which you spend a couple of chapters discussing, is that correct interpretation of the main message. i think so. yes. i'm arguing that that the trump administration policies prior to covid produced economic growth and that economic growth is something that a low-income minority groups are able to take advantage of i mean the book is titled black boom, but it's really a working-class boom that i'm describing. it. just so happens that blacks into some extent hispanics are overrepresented among the working class. but what we saw in that period first three years of the trump presidency prior to the pandemic what we saw was economic growth
that were down in mainly to the benefit of the working class in this country the less educated the less experience people that often been left on the sidelines during previous economic booms. and and so that's what i'm getting at here and my argument basically is that economic growth does a better job of lifting those groups then does redistribution policies then does racial preference policies and so forth, which is what we saw under president trump's predecessor. and now what we're seeing under the current administration the pursuing those types of policies. yeah, and if you look at the international experience, that's definitely been the case for with the china and india, you know, the capitalism is probably by far the greatest force in the world invented to lift the power to reduce poverty in the world and economic growth through either us policy or economic growth in those countries was
really what reduced poverty in the world sense. so i wanted to get to you you have an interesting discussion in the in the book about, you know, pre civil rights and post civil rights black progress. can you kind of elaborate on that? well, i wanted to include that history to show that what happened under trump is not unprecedented and so far as when the economy has been growing in this country. that is when blacks and other minorities have been able to take advantage of that growth and move themselves forward and and and prosper and and so if you look at the the fastest period of growth for black americans since slavery economist put it in the post-war period between then and the early 1970s. so you're talking about a time period in this country where there was still legal discrimination you're talking
about jim crow you're talking about a pre-civil rights period by and large you're talking about a period when blacks had virtually no political clout in this country. let alone, you know, a black president or flat black mayors of large cities forth as you begin to see 1980s and 90s none of that was in place and yet this was a period when blacks were increasing their incomes were increasing their home ownership rates were leaving poverty. we're entering middle-class professions and so forth at unprecedented rates and it's because the economy was growing the post-war period was a time of tremendous economic prosperity in this country. and the argument there is that that is primarily what these groups need and then they will be able to take advantage of it from there. and that is what they need much more so than awoke president who is putting in place racial preferences or group preferences picking and choosing winners and
looters. so to speak in terms of government policy more so than they need wealth redistribution programs, which we've seen in the in the post civil rights era starting with the great society programs and so forth that is not done as good. job of lifting low-income groups as simple economic prosperity has done and so what we need are our policies that produce economic growth and then these groups will be able to take advantage of that and and the trump years prior to covid. we're just another example of this we'd seen it in the past before and we saw it again during those first three years of donald trump. yeah, i thought that was a very interesting comparison. i think that doesn't get discussed a lot. so i thought it was very useful in relation to the trump years. can you also talk about the book gets into this? which also thought was very interesting. it's the voting patterns of blacks and hispanics
essentially, which is counteracting the mainstream media message. so even though you have a bombardment of negative information about the president from the mainstream media and the quieting or or you know, non-reporting of any positive policy developments. you see a shift in votes towards the president's by minorities. can you talk a little bit about that part of the book? well sure. i mean when trump was first elected in 2016. he did not do particularly. well among blacks in particular and hispanics. i mean he did worse than even traditional republican candidates presidential candidates have done and you know, i i think well in terms of recent republican presidential candidates prior to trump you had mitt romney and john mccain both of whom had to run against obama, so i think we can we can cut them some slack there for how they did among black voters, but if you go to the pre obama
era trump underperformed traditional republican presidents going back to you know, gerald ford in the 1970s, so we started from a lower point than most in 2016, but what we did see in 2020 was an uptick in both black and hispanic support and i think that has a lot to do with how those groups they're economically during the trump. prior to cope with it. we saw a record low on employment rates for blacks and hispanics. we saw record low poverty rates for blacks in hispanics and more importantly. we saw a black wages rising at a faster rate than white rages during this period during that three years stretch prior to covid. i mean you also have to remember how bad blacks had an economically for the majority of obama's presidency, you know black unemployment did not fall below double digits.
until the seventh year of the obama presence. i mean that blacks had it very bad economically under president obama. they supported him overwhelmingly. he was well liked among blacks personality what and among whites and still is he's still pulls very well in terms of popularity but his economic policies his stewardship of the economy did not go over well with blacks or whites. and and so i think blacks remember how bad things were and under trump when they saw their fatter paychecks when they saw how plentiful the job market was. i think they they gave trump credit for that and that's part of the reason i believe he did better in 2020. he was focused on reopening the economy quickly after covid hit and of course a lot of these workers. i'm talking about are service sector workers. they couldn't work from home during the lockdowns and and they wanted to get back to work
and trump was in favor of reopening the economy and i think that that redounded to his benefit when it came to to 2020 and that's why although he lost the election he did much better among both blacks and hispanics particularly among the men in both of those groups. yeah, i written on the past also on sort of the total damage of covid. you have to count both the disease itself obviously mortality morbidity, but also the cost of preventing future disease meaning foregone economic activity and if you look at the data during 2020 the major vast majority of the total harm of covid what's cost of prevention about 80% in the middle of the year roughly and 20% traditionally measured of how we value life in in government accounting was due to the disease itself in terms of mortality. so trump actually shows up if you look internationally us shows up as much better than
europe even though many people in the press held up europe as role models of how to fight the disease but in terms of total damage the us actually had a lot lower total damage because we had lower cost of prevention by opening up the economy much quicker than the european so i definitely agree with you there coming back to obama's policies that kind of let into trump, so i'm going to talk about how do we get to trump? and then what he did and then sort of the future. talk about the sort of slow recovery that you talk about in the book because traditionally economies have kind of found that when you have a steep recession you have enormous growth afterwards. it's sort of like a pendulum if you swing it one way. it's going to go even further or or quicker to the other side. so talk a little bit about that and what you thought brought about the slow recovery. well, you're right people say well obama inherited a recession from george w. bush, which of course is true.
it was a horrible recession. it was very deep. but as you pointed out historically the deeper the recession the more robust the recovery and yet under obama we had the slowest economic recovery in the post-warp period and and and and and that is the economy that trump inherited. i mean there there are people out there who want to say, oh to the extent that we did have good economic growth under under trump. he simply inherited this from from his predecessor and it really no matter who it's exceeded obama things would have turned out the way they did those first three years under trump and that's oh that's a revisionist history. i i would argue, know in 2015. the economy just the second to last year of the obama presidency the economy grew at 3.1 percent. the next year the last year of the obama presidency 2016 it grew at 1.6 percent. about half as the growth is
about half as much and and so that is the economy that donald trump inherited. that is an economy that was slowing down dramatically slowing down to the point where you had leading economists like larry summers the former treasury secretary under president clinton saying there was a 60% chance that we were going into a recession. you had the federal reserve and the congressional budget office saying, you know, we're already at full employment unemployment can't go any lower growth. can't be any stronger. uh, we're at the end of a business cycle they were talking about a soft landing. that was the top. that was the economy that trump inherited and what happened he blew away all those expectations unemployment. didn't that go lower dramatically lower than the congressional budget office and then the federal reserve had
predicted growth was stronger than the federal reserve had predicted trump exceeded those expectations. and so this wasn't merely a continuation of what was going on under obama. this was an acceleration. i mean one data point i point to is for the lowest earners the in the lowest income brackets. under the first three years of the trump presidency. their incomes grew at double the rate. then they did in the second term of obama. so this wasn't just a continuation. this was an acceleration and i think that the people who are making this up this continuation argument are making a sort of head's eye when tails you lose type of argument in other words if things had gone sideways those first three years under trump, i doubt they would have blamed president obama for that. but because they went well they want to give obama credit and i
don't think they can have it both ways. yeah, i agree. i mean, in fact there's a body in the legislature called like you referred to congressional budget office and for our viewers. the congressional budget office is charged with looking at the economic outlook under current law with the key term is under current law meaning obama policies. so they did that in 2016 and that was their prediction of what a continuation of obama policies look like they're legally charged with forecasting that under current law, which was obama policies and then people turn around. i think i agree with you they turn around after the fact that says no that's not what we meant by a continuation of obama policies, even though we have illegal sort of mandate to provide that prediction. here's what we really man, and it would have been what trump accomplished so i think i couldn't agree more that that's
kind of a schizophrenia and other trump the president tweeted that they were con men and and i think that's a strong term but it's kind of signifies what's going on. they pretending to be someone they're not and by having one set of definitions of obama continuation in 16 and another in 19. now what what do you think costs that getting more into the sort of slow recovery. what is your take on the exact policies? which you think obama instituted that was contributing to that slow recovery. well again, these are policies that i think harmed growth. so for example, there was a tremendous expansion of the welfare state and you know, he used the recession as an excuse to extend unemployment benefits to extend a food stamp programs and so forth a lot of this discouraged people from returning to the labor force and without workers, you're less
productive country, which is one of the problems i have with the biden's bill build that better proposals is that they're going to disincentivize people to work to return to the workforce expanding the welfare state, you know, expanding government relief programs well into the class not just to help the poor but to help people with six-figure incomes. this is i think harmful to economic growth and this is what we saw under under obama an expansion of of the welfare state an expansion of government programs. and and i think that that disincentivized work. we also saw a taxes under obama and and regulations after regulation after regulation. i think that harm business growth that harmed hiring and and so a lot of what happened under trump is is a reversal of those policies last regulation and tax cut particularly
corporate tax cuts, which gave businesses and incentive to bring money back from overseas and invested here and and they did that and and and they hired and and we saw the growth that that occurred due to that. we saw the unemployment go down. we saw the poverty rate go down and we saw in eyes, and and so the to you the problem under obama were policies that harmed the expansion of the economy kept the economy from expanding and a faster rate and that's why we saw such slow growth for so long. i think he was really holding the economy back and trump sort of unleashed its animal spirits and we saw the result. yeah you touch a little bit about corporate taxes and also investment which presumably drives demand for labor and is good for workers. even though the press treats it as a sort of zerosome game, but can you talk a little bit about that kind of debate because it was kind of interesting how many
obama economists flipped during trump in in favor of corporate tax cuts. well, i mean i i think honest economists know corporations largely are gonna pass on these costs to workers. it's gone passed on and in terms of their pay what workers receive and pay or what they receive in benefits, but these are passed on and so to the to the extent that you are raising taxes on corporations, you're harming workers. you're harming your harming workers and this whole and doesn't spread evenly across all sectors of the economy. it's particularly true in the manufacturing sector and and again trump prove that we could still get something out of the american manufacturing sector that a lot of people have give it up on and said there's more growth coming there all those are coming back? i don't think they are all coming back. we're not going to have the manufacturing sector that we had in the in the 50s and 60s and 70s, but there's still something there and i think those tax cuts those corporate tax cuts in particular showed show that there's still something there. we also cut individual taxes as
well. let people keep more than money and spend it how they want. and again this this is not rocket science here, you know when kennedy cut taxes in the 60s. this happened when reagan cut them and in the 80s this happened when bush cut them in the 2000s it happened and when donald trump cut them it happened. so again, this is not something unique to to trump the trump administration. he simply doing things here or did things here that that have produced similar results when other presidents have done them. yeah, and also think even if not, everything goes to the workers, which there's a lot of evidence that a lot goes to the workers, you know half america or shareholders their owners of these companies and their pensions are presumably benefiting that something we stress quite a bit on how much people's pensions were increasing during the trump administration and these are workers throughout the economy might not be the poorest of the workers, but they're certainly
workers in the economy there. also a big debate. i wanted to sort of hear your take on this on the buybacks that occurred with these texts. can you talk a little bit about that? i don't i don't i don't think i get into that in the book the buyback debate. so no i i i don't get into that now. okay. well, i think i think also that was misguided a little bit because if you have a buyback that's just better reallocation of capital you take it from not investing in the company and you pay it out. a shareholders and those shareholders can invest it somewhere else as opposed to less productive ways for the company to invest. so if you have buybacks, that doesn't mean that necessarily that it doesn't go into investment. it just goes to a different investment from that particular company. so i thought that debate was kind of miss misguided as well. now there was a lot of so coming in now. we we basically talked about the obama years.
coming in now to the election path past the election trump won before he not is inaugurated. there was a lot of naysayers who were talking about we're now going into a dramatic recession because of trump you talk a little bit about that in the book. yes, i as i mentioned larry summers, but he was not the the only one that was the conventional wisdom that we were at the end of the business cycle and and that we just couldn't squeeze anything more out of out of this current cycle. i mean, i think the the federal reserves said that growth wouldn't be much above 2% maybe 2.1% they were predicting for 20 17 2018 trump exceeded that the trump economy exceeded that i think they said unemployment wouldn't fall below around four four point one percent again it did it felt well below that a full percentage point below that in fact, and so that that's and i think it's important to point
that out because again there is this argument that this was all going to happen anyway, and and in fact well into 2018 you still had president obama there taking credit. for the trump economy you you had joe biden taking credit again for the trump economy and and saying, you know, we started this the the obama administration started all of us that you're saying today. don't forget who started it and and again, that's why i wanted to point out what those expectations were when when trump took office a slowing economy and and predictions that we might be headed into another recession and that's important. it's also important to know that the job growth that we saw under trump occurred when we were near full employment and you know as an economist to get that kind of job growth when there are still
so few people looking for work at the time. it's pretty remarkable. i mean when when you have a lot of people out of work a high unemployment rate and then you get and then you get tremendous amounts of drop growth. that's that's one thing but to do so at the at the time in the business cycle that trump did it is remarkable in and of itself and i don't think he received a lot of credit for that. yeah, i agree. and also there were more dramatic, you know discussions as you probably are where you know, paul crewman thought we're gonna have it immediate crash when trump came in to office essentially at the same time as we saw a complete spike in business optimism when trump got elections, so that's you know tells you a little bit on the the pulse he has on the economy. i think that was kind of dramatic. go ahead. sorry. no. no, you're actually right pregnant was was among them. it was the conventional wisdom that the trump policies and also that these policies that tax cuts were just gonna be for the wealthy.
that's cut. we're going to be for the wealthy. um, and and in fact what we saw again is those corporate tax cuts redounding to the benefit of workers, which is what the economic literature says. kevin hassett has done who was part of the council of economic advisors has done research on this and corporate tax cuts do tend to rebound to the benefit of workers. ultimately. and and and that's that's what we saw and and again we saw and this is what i i try and stress in the book. is that because this was a working class boom and because blacks are overrepresented among the working-class economic growth meant less income inequality the left obsesses over income inequality, and we saw less income income any quote we start shrinking. under donald trump during the first three years of his administration prior to covid
black wages rising at a faster rate than white wages. and this will again is something that the naysayers when trump was elected and and said if he is elected and if he does put through these tax cuts, it's gonna it's gonna harm minorities in this country the exact opposite happened and and i think that is a story that needs to be told if you care about economic inequality. these are the types of policies that can shrink it and and and and that's why this needs to be told yeah, i agree. so we at the council of economic advisors actually came out it was driven by kevin's research on using the literature to look at what the effect of the tax reform would be and we were ridiculed at the time as being dishonest etc. and then obviously what happened was exactly what we said would have would happen and but it kind of shows you that pull it is how political economists have gone. they didn't used to be they used to be more neutral and and the
krugman example, i think is sort of a good one where krugman is probably the economist who economist turned into political pundit who sort of damage to profession the most i think by having such biased views on everything being against republican on every particular topic that he can't really see straight, but even larry summers and people are good against the tax cuts, even though they are good for them under obama, right? it's kind of it's kind of a strange and the rest of society gets divided among economists on political grounds and that gets away gets in the way from doing the science which ca or concept economic devices. we where i was at we put out that report led by a large part by someone chemist research. and we basically just used a literature's to say here's what the literature says will happen. it wasn't necessarily what we thought we would happen. here's to what the scientific literature says, and it was just completely dismissed. so can you talk a little bit
about how you see that from a journalistic point of view because it's been a big change with trump that that occurred. well again, it's part of what i was getting at earlier when i said the journalist sort of put aside their their traditional standards when it comes to covering and administration and went into this full resistance mode and thought that their job was to you know, stand up at press briefings every day and great the president or or break the press secretary not simply cover the administration but to resist it and and you you saw this and and and and people like krugman and and is and his newspaper the new york times but also in the washington post you saw it at major news networks, they decided they were going to cover this president differently and they and and as a result stories like the ones i'm trying to tell on this book didn't get told because it ran countered to the narrative that they were pushing and they didn't really care if the facts did not
support that narrative they were going to run with that narrative anyways, and so that's that's the result and it results in a ultimately a misinformed or uninformed public and and the public deserves oppress that is going to be somewhat objective in their news coverage of an administration. that's not what what we got under under donald trump. so i i you know, i blame my own profession and and i don't know when or if journalism will be able to win back the trust of the public given it it's it's behavior under under the trump administration and i think you're you're seeing the fallout from that now this this this trust of what people read i think saw it and and covid the coverage. you know, should we trust what's coming out of the white house? should we trust what the press is telling us? i really think that the journalism brought this on
itself. i mean we didn't have the highest approval rating to begin with prior to trump, but we certainly didn't do do ourselves any any any any favors by the way, we covered this administration and and there were some exceptions like i believe the wall street journal and the editorial page in particular who sort of kept their wits about them. they didn't behave as though the president was above criticism, but they wanted to give him credit where they thought it was due and but they were the exception not the rule unfortunately. yeah, i thought i we saw that from inside the white house too. i thought it was very much more neutral coverage by the wall street journal than obviously other in especially did or editorial page you were very critical of some aspects of the economic policy such as tariff policy etc. but then you lay then you laid out, you know, the positive aspects of a particular impact on poor parts about population what we used to call in the white house the blue collar boom, and i thought that was very refreshing in terms of
having a more neutral criticizing where you thought it was do it, even though we i pretend to disagree with that criticism, but i thought it was a very you guys were kind of alone in that space of trying to get you keep your head cool and it makes this. yeah, i mean we had the journal had issues with some of trump's economic policies and particularly is trade policies, but also as immigration policies to the extent that you wanted to reduce legal immigration in this country the wall street journal editorial page is long supported legal immigration and argued that they benefit the country economically by and large. there's certainly trade-offs particularly with a poor immigrants less less educated immigrants and so forth but on balance, we've argued that that immigration is in that is a net benefit for the country. so we really did frown on trump's efforts to reduce legal immigration in particular and
also on on his sort of the enforcement only policy when it came to illegal immigration that we've long argued that the most effective immigration policy would be to balance more border enforcement with giving people more legal ways to come and that that would be the right combination to reduce pressure on the border. so we did take issue and in the book i do get in as you mentioned earlier. i do get into some of the immigration debates and the argument that i take on in. the book is one made by a lot of trump supporters, which is that his crackdowns on illegal immigration. they argue we're down into the benefits of blacks and i argue that blacks historically have not needed a less competition from immigrants in order to prosper in this country and that to the extent that they did prosper for the first three years under donald trump. i did not see the argument see
the see the evidence in the data that it was due to a crackdown on illegal immigration and that argument that is an argument i take on in the book so the book is not a defense of all of donald trump's policies. it is not a defense of this character this personality his twitter feed. it's a defensive free market economic principles which again i think are better. other dancing upward mobility than than wealth redistribution and racial preference policies. and that's the argument i lay out in the book. yeah. and no i think in defense of the president, i don't think he's so against legal immigration. i think what he was mostly against is that it's not merit-based. it's based on families genetic makeup, essentially whether you're allowed into the country or not, and i think there was a big push in the white house led by jared kushner, but also with
obviously stephen miller but also counts of economic advisors that try to push a package with merit-based immigration that got completely squashed because of covid coming in and everything else was put to decide but i think that the main the main issue with legal immigration. i thought was that it was a merit based and that we wouldn't needed to change it us is kind of unique in that way. i mean if you just look at our northern neighbor canada, it's very near merit based in terms of immigration policy and but us is kind of unique in having such a high priority put on family members coming in as opposed to how much you will produce or predict or basically contributed to the economy. this comes back to milton friedman, essentially. who who famously argued that you know, we couldn't have the open border policy we had. in 1910. let's say when a lot of
immigrants came in because of a well first state once you have a welfare state. the immigration policy is completely different because now people can come in just for the government transfers as opposed to before a welfare state when people immigrate it's a mutual benefit both the worker coming in and the company hired them benefit. there's no there's only a mutual game before the person coming and also the people hiring him that's not necessarily the case in a welfare state, which is obviously the pressure that a lot of people are concerned with free health care etc that people come in and then they don't contribute and draw on taxes. i think that that is the real crux of of the issue and and i i think the merit-based part of the immigration package was it was too bad. it wasn't that it couldn't be pushed for the because i think it's an important component in how the president saw and
immigration policy overall. well, i i don't i don't i don't think there's any doubt that that the system as it's currently exists is broken and badly broken. it was built for a different society a different economy in a different century and and it clearly needs updating. and and i think there's a debate to be had over whether we should move away from family-based immigration and toward more merit or skills dates immigration that you describe places like canada have i think that that debate that debate is is fine and i and i would welcome welcome that today the argument i make in the book. however is whether immigrants harm job prospects of americans particularly black americans and there again, i i do not read the literature in a way that says that that is the case there is
some evidence that immigrants low skill immigrants particular can put downward pressure on on americans without a high school degree. um a very small which is a very small percentage of americans and a rapidly shrinking percentage of americans, but there is some evidence presented particularly by researchers like george bohrhos of harvard that have shown four five percent downward pressure on the wages of the lowest skilled americans, there is no evidence not even from warhas that these immigrants are displacing workers in the us displacing name a natives are pushing them out of jobs. but again, my focus on the book is on the impact on black workers in particular and no matter how many million of illegal immigrants you think are in this country. i think the official number is around 11 or 12 million, but
some people say it's 20 million or higher pick your number. the point is the economic gains that i described among blacks during the first three years of the trump administration. occurred with those people in this country, so however many million illegal immigrants you think are in this country. it did not stop unemployment from falling to record lows under under donald trump for black americans. or poverty rates falling to record lows among blacks under donald trump's first three years as president these again blacks and other low skill workers. i supposed to be the workers that are harmed the most by immigrants and lee illegal immigrants in particular yet the wages of the lowest skilled workers in the us were rising at a faster rate than their bosses even with all of these illegal immigrants in the country. now, this is not an argument for illegal immigration what i'm saying, is that people who point
to immigrants or illegal immigrants in particular as as you nuke uniquely harmful to the job prospects of black so the wages of blacks, i i think they're off days based on my reading of the literature but also based on the experience of economic growth under donald trump prior to code. yeah, i agree and there was many other reasons. obviously you made it very clear in the book that you're not for illegal immigration and the main reason the main rationale i think was that you know the drug trade come through the southern border that was part of it 90% of heroin comes through the southern border into the us we have a huge fentanyl crisis where china goes through the sudden border into the us. there's a lot of other reasons the labor markets put it that way to care about it. well, we're we're a sovereign country. we should decide who comes into america not the people who want to come and i think that americans are rightly outraged
at what is going on the chaos. we see on the border they want the border fixed. they don't want it erased and you have a party out there that is pretending as if there shouldn't be a border at all that people should anyone should just be able to walk into the sovereign nation. no questions asked and i don't think that that's what the american people want. so we do need border security. we do need to protect the border terrorists are out there. they can exploit that drug traffickers are out there they could like that human smugglers are out there. they could explain they're all kinds of reasons to protect the border. this is not an argument for illegal immigration. the question is what impact do immigrants have on the job prospects and the economic prosperity of black americans and and and my and as i read literature, they're not having a huge impact on the economic prosperity of black america, and i think i think the book makes
us very clear that that's the angle you're taking. i'm not saying you're taking any other angle. i'm just saying that the push towards reducingly illegal immigration should be separated from merit-based legal immigration, which i think the press obviously modeled for self-serving purposes and when they covered immigration on their president, let me go to the last chapter which kind of discusses that many some people argue that state policies of racing minimum wages will contributed to this but you negate that and can you talk about that sure. so after i wanted to take on an argument on immigration that that some of trump supporters were putting forward as a reason for the for the economic growth that we saw and and then i wanted to take on an argument from the left put forward as a reason and they often said that well the wages of the lowest income workers were rising because states were raising their minimum wage and and that
explains the economic gains. we saw in the working class under trump and of course this all started under obama because that's when states are began raising their states began raising their minimum wage. and again, i i i don't find the literature supporting supporting that claim first first, the minimum wage is a very blunt instrument when it comes to addressing poverty. i mean most people who make the minimum wage are poor, and most people are poor already making more than the minimum wage. what poor families need are jobs if you you're typical family living in poverty has no workers. the problem is not that they have workers only making the minimum wage they lack workers period and so to the extent that you are pricing people out of labor force, you're not addressing poverty, but i do look exactly i look particularly at states that did raise their
minimum wage and raising the minimum wage involves trade-offs if you make the minimum wage and it goes up by law. you will make more money. obviously if you keep your job and if you keep working the same number of hours that you were working before the wage went up, but those are two big ifs and the studies that have been put out there particularly places like seattle which put in place a higher minimum wage in recent years. is that people in fact were given fewer hours to work or they weren't hired at all. and so when it came to incomes these studies show that that these workers were ultimately worse off they were more they were making less money because even though they were making more per hour they were working fewer hours due to the minimum wage hikes. so again, these these are these are trade-offs that that are involved here on the left very often does not want to talk about the downside of lifting
the wage for but in fact, there is there is a quite significant downside and we were mentioning the congressional budget office. earlier, they also put out a study on minimum wages and and pointing this out that some people will get higher pay other people will lose their jobs, or have to work fewer hours because of of the wages, but this is not a i argue. this is not a a this is not evidence or this is not the reason that we saw the economic gains that we saw under trump prior to covid this lifting of minimum wages at the state that the state level. yeah, i tend to agree economist in general believe that if you impose price controls in a market, which is what a minimum wage is in a labor market you reduce quantity that is to say number of workers. right? so you'd be because you don't allow people to trade a lower prices than and then what's mandated by the floor in this case a minimum wage. so what was particularly
troublesome i think with that explanation is that we saw a huge growth and employment at the same time with so wage increases so that doesn't lend itself very well to minimum wages because if minimum wages you will see wage increases potentially, but you will prove zoomially see drop in employment from it and there's all racial aspect to these minimum wage hikes because they tend to harm the job prospects of the least skilled least educated workers a disproportionate number of whom are blacks and hispanics in this country. and so to the extent that you are raising, minimum wage your your disproportionately harming those groups and it's hard to move up the rungs on the ladder if you can't get to the first rung if you can't get that entry level job and what these job what these wage heights often do is price people out of work. and and so that's that's also something i get into in the book and people also don't know the
history of a lot of people don't know the history of minimum wage laws in this country. they were in the first part of the 20th century. they were put in place in part two price blacks out of labor market particularly southern workers in southern black workers. moving north during the great migrations the unions and in the north and in management in the war and in the north did not want the competition for they don't last filling these jobs the politicians in the north in one black spilling these jobs, and these minimum wage laws were put in in part to price blacks out of labor come out arguing that that's why people favor them today, but my point is that they're having a similar effect regardless of the attempt of the intent that they are disproportionately harmful to to to blacks and i bring that up because we recently having a debate about whether the filibuster was was a racist
because it was used to block civil rights legislation in the past and i and i think if you're gonna play that game you can talk about the origins of a lot of laws that are in place today including the minimum wage laws having a a sort of tarnished history. yeah, so i i think we're coming up on the last few minutes here. i think, you know first of all congratulations on a fantastic book. i also think it's a sign which you talk about in the book that this is a interesting book even though these facts were out there, right? so, how do you see this progressing in the future where we have the you know the media so divided and both sides are trying to potentially suppress beneficial news to the other side and highlight. you know harmful news of the other side. how do you see that progressing in the future? well, i i think it could get worse before it gets better.
i think social media can can is one reason why it allows people to only watch or listen to or read exactly what they want something that's gonna reinforce their own biases. and and and so we end up talking past one another in our in our national conversations the extent that we have them and and that's that's a problem and and i'm not sure how that's gonna play out, but i think it could get it could get worse before before it gets better. i mean the nice thing about obviously the internet and social media is the access to information but it also the downside is that if we're not sharing a source of information we could often just just wind up talking right past one another and and that's what we see a lot of today, unfortunately yeah, and that's a very important message i think to conclude with. thank you jason for a really
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