7 Ways Trump Could Screw Los Angeles
Well, the electoral college didn't save us after all, and barring celestial intervention, Donald John Trump will be our president in less than two weeks.
We, of course, have no idea what Trump will actually do when he takes office; the guy is nothing if not unpredictable. Yesterday, our own Dennis Romero was busy trying to find the silver lining in all of this. But let's be honest: There are myriad ways President Trump could screw us over royally. We won't even get into some of the really apocalyptic scenarios – nuclear holocaust, civil war, jail sentences for journalists (gulp).
Here are seven relatively realistic things Trump could do, if he wanted to, that would be bad for Los Angeles:
7. Cut off public transit funding.
On Wednesday, officials announced that the federal government is giving L.A. $1.6 billion to speed construction of the Purple Line extension, a subway that will run mostly underneath Wilshire Boulevard, connecting downtown and West L.A. Huzzah!
Could Trump cancel the check? Mayor Eric Garcetti insisted the deal was "bulletproof" and "a signed contract." He added, rather wishfully, that Trump, a New Yorker, has “a fluency about subways and about light rail, and an enthusiasm for what we are doing here.”
Much has been made about Trump's plan for a supposedly $1 trillion infrastructure spending package. But there's little reason to believe L.A.'s transit network will benefit from that. First of all, House Republicans are lukewarm on the idea. Secondly, the plan — really more of a vague idea — is to give tax cuts and other financial incentives to get private companies to build infrastructure. Think toll roads, privately run train lines, electrical grid modernization and everyone's favorite, gas pipelines. It's hard to imagine Trump getting excited about a subway tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass – but then again, who knows?
In just the last six years, L.A.'s growing transit system has benefited from billions of dollars of grants and low-interest loans. If Trump wanted to, he could make sure we don't see another dime.
6. Deny L.A. money for river revitalization.
Another big-ticket item on the L.A infrastructure wish list is Los Angeles River revitalization. There's a plan out there called Alternative 20, which would restore 11 miles of the river, between Griffith Park and downtown L.A. The plan would basically park-ify the rather unsightly concrete channel by putting in walking paths and plants and restoring natural habitats.
Last we heard, the total cost was supposed to be just over $1 billion. City officials were hoping to split the cost 50/50 with the federal government, but that was looking unlikely even before Trump's election. Trump could make sure we get zilch.
5. Mess up our Olympics bid.
Donald Trump loves the Olympics, and he'd love nothing more than to be the guy to bring the Olympics back to this country. If that's not making America great again, what is? Less than a month after he was elected, Trump was on the phone with the president of the International Olympic Committee, expressing support for L.A.'s bid to host the 2024 Summer Games.
So maybe Trump bodes well for the Games? On the other hand, maybe the IOC will decide they'd rather not hand a huge political victory to a guy who called the United Nations "a waste of time and money.”
4. Repeal Obamacare.
Trump isn't even in office yet, and Republicans are already trying to repeal and [TBD] Obamacare. To be sure, the health care law has some issues, such as rising premium costs. But the law appears to be working especially well in California, which unlike some states is big enough to have a competitive marketplace. Premiums were expected to rise 13 percent this year. But between 2013 and 2015, the percentage of working-age adults without health insurance fell from 23.7 percent to 11.1 percent.
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"Prior to the Affordable Care Act, Los Angeles was ground zero for the health care crisis,” consumer advocate Anthony Wright told the L.A. Daily News this week. “To undo the success made would set us back even worse, to before the Affordable Care Act.”
A study by the Commonwealth Fund found that California stands to lose 334,000 jobs if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.
3. Start a trade war with China.
Not only has Trump promised to raise tariffs on imports from China, he's hired UC Irvine professor Peter Navarro to head a newly created White House National Trade Council. Navarro is author of the subtly titled book Death by China: Confronting the Dragon — A Global Call to Action.
California has more to lose from a trade war with China than any other state. As the L.A. Times recently reported , "About $143.6 billion in goods from China were shipped to the Golden State in 2015." And we sold about $14.3 billion in goods to China. According to the Times:
The high trade volume helps keep more than 30,000 workers employed at the Port of Los Angeles, where six of every 10 containers arrive from China. And the raw materials and finished products that pour in ensure California companies such as Apple and Intel remain among the most profitable brands in the world.
“California has more to lose because we are the gateway to the U.S.” for Asian exporters, said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Cal State Channel Islands. “This is where the infrastructure, connections and merchants are.”
2. Deport undocumented immigrants en masse.
Trump has promised to immediately deport as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants who "are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers." Now, there are simply not that many undocumented immigrants with criminal records, so he's either lying, exaggerating, simply making shit up without really meaning it or considers all undocumented immigrants criminals.
Deporting millions of people from the country would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. And L.A. officials are saying they won't cooperate. But Trump could still deport a ton of people living in Los Angeles — people who are currently working here, spending money here, loving people here and in general participating in the community.
The other danger is that immigrants will be so afraid of Trump deporting them that they will be reluctant to participate in the public sphere. For example, immigrants may be reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement.
"A lot of immigrants don’t know LAPD’s role in enforcing immigration laws," says LAPD Lt. Al Labrada. "There’s a lot of misinformation that goes with that. Now, with the fear of mass deportations, there’s quite a bit of fear."
LAPD has no role in enforcing immigration laws, and under the current police chief, Charlie Beck, the department has had a policy of not turning over people arrested for low-level crimes to federal agents for deportation.
"Our role is to assure the community that our intent remains the same: to identify victims of crimes, solve crimes and to help the community, regardless of immigration status," Labrada says.
1. Pull all federal funding.
LAPD's hands-off approach when it comes to enforcing immigration laws makes it a "sanctuary city." And Trump has promised to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities.
Now, Trump says a lot of things. And this one doesn't seem like one of the things that he actually means, or actually understands, or will remember, or will follow through on. But if he does, we could be in big trouble.
Since this is more of a vague threat than an actual proposal, it's hard to say how much money Los Angeles stands to lose. But it would probably be millions of dollars.
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