Donald Trump probably felt pretty confident delivering his State of the Union address this year – one that pundits called uplifting, even if most of what was in it was far from accurate. Aside from the typical racist and xenophobic nonsense that usually comes out whenever Trump opens his mouth, Trump did something else despicable in the address, revealed this week by AP: lying about a formerly homeless veteran to prop up one of his administration’s programs.
“After struggling with drug addiction, Tony lost his job, his house and his family. He was homeless,” Trump said, pointing out the former homeless Army veteran Tony Rankins in the crowd. “But then Tony found a construction company that invests in Opportunity Zones. He is now a top tradesman, drug-free, reunited with his family.”
The trouble is that Rankins actually got his job four months before the Treasury Department determined which neighborhoods were eligible for the Opportunity Zone tax break. The job site where Rankins worked turned out to be in a neighborhood of Nashville that was not eligible. The fact that Trump lied about this is despicable enough – but it points to something even worse.
The Treasury Department is currently investigating if wealthy individuals like Rankins’ employer have been abusing the tax break program, using their connections with Donald Trump. If this is true, Trump specifically thanking Rankins’ employer in the same speech should come as no surprise. This also coincides at a time that the administration is having a hard time explaining why the job growth is so lackluster compared to what Republicans promised we would see.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making