Remarks by Chairman Crowley to Center for American Progress Action Fund
(Washington, DC) – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) delivered the keynote address today at a Center for American Progress Action Fund summit on President Trump’s first 100 days in office. Below are Congressman Crowley’s remarks as prepared.
“President Trump wants to celebrate his first 100 days in office by suggesting tax cuts for billionaires, continuing to force his party to defend a terrible health care bill, and flirting with a government shutdown if he doesn’t get his way.
“When I look back on these past 100 days, I’m not sure what’s worse – what this president has done or what he hasn’t done. It’s been a mixture of missed opportunities – like an infrastructure package. And damaging policies – like his immigration executive orders. Those policies – in particular his immigration policies – have targeted my constituents in a really hurtful and personal way. That’s one promise I actually wish he hadn’t kept.
“But it didn’t have to be this way. Most of my first decade in Congress was spent with President George W. Bush in the White House. I disagreed with him on a lot of his policies – strenuously, at times. But we were able to find areas where we could work together, like on foreign aid. Because for me, it’s not about the party line, and because he never went after my constituents – my home – the way this president has.
“I grew up in working-class Queens – only a few miles away from where Donald Trump himself grew up, yet very much on the other side of the tracks -in every way imaginable. We certainly experienced two very different upbringings, and chose two very different paths in life. When I talk to my neighbors back home, they all feel uncertain about their economic futures. That’s felt by Americans across this nation, and that’s what we heard during this past election.
“But what’s clear is that President Trump has broken his promises to look out for working families. And let me say, I think it’s dangerous to assume he’s just inept. Sure, sometimes he’s clearly lost. But for a lot of it, he knew exactly what he was doing. Just like he knew what he was doing when he made those promises during the campaign. Since Election Day, I’ve struggled to reconcile what voters told us, and what Democrats stand for. That’s because Democrats are the ones focused on lifting up hardworking Americans.
“But unfortunately, too many Americans didn’t hear us – they don’t believe that we share their same vision for America. So, I think, that’s how we got to this point – Donald Trump was able to capitalize at the right moment, when people were looking for someone to make these kinds of promises.
“As hard as it’s been for Democrats, we have to acknowledge that for whatever reason, people were listening to this guy – because he was telling them what they wanted to hear. He wasn’t telling them his achievable goals – or what he thought was in the country’s best interest. Just the most shamefully pandering answers. This was a nakedly political – and cynical – campaign, where promises were made just to get headlines.
“Which brings us to today – 100 days of broken promises. President Trump has made clear that he’ll take easy political points over the best interests of working men and women every time. Look no further than tomorrow’s government funding deadline. President Trump brought us to the edge of a government shutdown as a result of his reckless and thoughtless policy choices.
“Like dangling the stability of Americans’ health insurance as political blackmail or his relentless push for an unnecessary, expensive, wasteful border wall. Instead of building a wall, we could build more schools. We could help families with the high costs of college, or child care. Real solutions, for real problems. But this has been par for the course.
“From the very first days of his administration – or even before – President Trump has been breaking his promises to the middle class, over and over again. One of his favorite campaign phrases was that he would “drain the swamp” – instead he’s swimming in it. His cabinet isn’t filled with people who understand the challenges of making ends meet in America. Nope. It’s filled with billionaires. Wall Street executives. Political operatives more concerned with the Russian people than the American people. And instead of putting money in the pockets of hardworking Americans, he is lining his own – using the federal Treasury as a cash cow for his family and his hotels, and allowing his foreign policy to be informed by his overseas business interests.
“And that’s just what we know about. Because President Trump has flat-out refused to release his tax returns – something he promised to do. So, we don’t even know the full extent of his conflicts of interest. But what we do know is bad enough. We know he is pushing a tax reform plan that’s nothing more than a huge giveaway for the wealthiest Americans – like himself. If that plan is anything like his health care plan – it will be a body blow to the American worker.
“That health care plan was not just a slap in the face to the American people, it was a knife in their backs. That’s why even his own party is rejecting it. Throughout the campaign, President Trump refused to acknowledge the tremendous benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Millions of people getting health coverage. Millions more knowing that they now have protections for pre-existing conditions, and can’t be limited or denied coverage altogether.
“And once president, he went straight to undermining the law in every way possible. But he promised everyone that they would instead have a ‘great’ health care plan, that includes ‘insurance for everybody,’ and it would cost less and be perfect. To be honest, this isn’t even really a broken promise, because it was basically made up to begin with. And then, lo and behold, President Trump discovered that health care is ‘complicated.’
“The result? A plan that would deny health care coverage to 24 million Americans, raise premiums for older Americans, and gut protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Even now, he is trying to revive the bill, and with it, his reputation for “the Art of the Deal.” But what we’re seeing is that the famed negotiator can’t deliver. And the consequences are no longer limited to shareholders or investors. It’s the American people who suffer.
“Even the areas where President Trump has technically succeeded in his first 100 days, hurt American workers. Last time I spoke at CAP, I unveiled a major savings and retirement security plan. Americans are not saving enough – either in the short-term or for retirement. And that’s because while they often know that they should be saving, they sometimes don’t have the tools to save. Which is why it was concerning that one of the first laws President Trump signed would undermine the ability of cities to help their workers save for retirement.
“Like numerous other bills pushed forward by his cohorts in Congress, this bill took away important worker protections, just out of spite against the Obama administration. He didn’t not know what the bill did – it was a deliberate choice to hurt working Americans. We’ve also seen bills to roll back environmental protections, to weaken civil rights, and to allow people’s personal information to be sold online. But one of Republicans’ favorite themes has been to go after workers – not just in the abstract, but in actually limiting worker safety protections.
“President Trump and Congressional Republicans have passed bills that would hide labor violations and stop requiring employers to report injuries. They’ve made it harder for people to seek justice after employment discrimination. There is a callous disregard for American workers that is really troubling. Candidate Trump talked a big game about keeping jobs in America, and stopping companies from sending jobs overseas. And he said he was going to invest more here at home. But so far, we’ve seen no progress on any of those priorities – in fact, just the opposite.
“President Trump promised to put in place “Buy American” protections, even going as far as to require that any U.S. pipeline use U.S. steel. But just after establishing that requirement, he quietly excluded the Keystone Pipeline from that requirement. That’s a blow to the U.S. steelworkers who listened to his speeches and trusted his promises.
“He has done nothing to stop, or at all limit, the outsourcing of American jobs. And the climate of uncertainty he has created is not good for our economy. He’s not strengthening the economy – as a matter of fact, by taking us to the brink of a shutdown, he’s making our economy less stable. The fact is, he’s willing to gamble the livelihoods of working men and women to raise his own standing. But the jig is up.
“People are starting to see that the emperor – or should I say, the billionaire – has no clothes. Now, I know that President Trump likes to claim that anyone who criticizes him is pushing ‘fake news.’ He’d rather claim he’s being persecuted and fall back on his ‘alternative facts.’ But the facts don’t lie – and the numbers don’t either.
“Earlier this year, President Trump put out his first budget proposal, which made perfectly clear where his priorities are. They’re not with people hoping for a big investment in job creation, because he slashed infrastructure funding that creates opportunities while maintaining our roads and bridges. Not with those trying to find a new line of work or a higher-paying position, because he slashed job training programs. Not with coal miners left behind by a changing industry, because he eliminated more than half of the programs that help hard-hit coal communities. And not with struggling families, because he cut housing assistance, public education, and even heating aid and Meals on Wheels.
“Just like he has every step of the way, President Trump has demonstrated that his priorities are not with any of the people who are counting on their government – on their President – to look out for them.
“It’s been 100 days of broken promises and bitter disappointments; 100 days of dashed hopes and deep concerns. To President Trump I’d say, ‘It’s not too late. Take your next 100 days, and the 100 after that, and work with us to defend and support America’s workers.’ He needs to stop pursuing this damaging agenda that leaves so many Americans behind. We will work with him if he does that.
“But if not, like he hasn’t so far, we will fight back. We will resist. We will never stop fighting for the men and women all across America who are working to put food on their tables, keep a roof over their head, and provide for their families. That’s who I’m fighting for, and I know I’m not alone in this.
“The American people deserve a country – and a president – who delivers for them. I’ll fight for a hundred days or a thousand, until this President stops pandering and starts producing. Thank you again for having me, and I look forward to your questions and discussion.”