The 2008 financial crisis was disastrous for families in Hampton Roads and across Virginia. Our economy was upended as families lost their homes, their jobs, and their savings. Among those hardest hit in Virginia were African-American communities who, between 2007 and 2009, saw job losses of more than 67,000.
As chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, I have always made it my priority to stand up and fight for men, women, and children who have been held back because they weren’t given the opportunities to succeed. The housing market crash and the recession that followed took those opportunities away from so many families. That’s why I was horrified to see reports that Donald Trump had been “excited” for the housing market to crash and that he hoped to “go in and buy like crazy” so he could try to “make a lot of money” when the markets failed.
While millions in America were losing homes and jobs, Donald Trump was focused on making a profit for himself. This is Trump’s view of the world — when our communities suffer, Donald Trump looks to cash in. We don’t know how much money Trump made as a result of the recession — or whether he even did — because he refuses to release his tax returns, even though every major party nominee has done so for decades. The last time Trump’s tax returns were made public, they revealed that he paid zero federal income taxes for multiple years, while American workers paid their fair share. That’s one of the scary things about Trump running for president; his policies would keep money in the pockets of those at the top, while the rest of us pay the price. That’s how he’s operated his whole career, including when he rooted for the housing market to crash.
Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, the American economy has bounced back. Unemployment is low and many of the people who were knocked down by the recession have gotten back on their feet. But families still feel pain from wages that haven’t gone up in years and the rising costs of prescription drugs. For those who can afford college, many of them are stuck with student debt for years. We need to elect a leader who will fight for us and build an economy that works for everyone, not just the super-wealthy.
Hillary Clinton is that leader. When she came to Norfolk in February, I had the honor of introducing her to more than 1000 of our neighbors who came out to hear her speak. She told us that if we help elect her President, she will make America whole again. She will fight for the families struggling to put food on the table, graduates weighed down by student debt, and the workers who are forced to work multiple jobs just to get by. That’s the kind of president we need and it’s why I’ll be out working hard to elect Hillary.
Virginia Senator Mamie Locke is the chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.