Sen. Tim Scott's life story is inspiring. Hailing from a black family with humble beginnings in South Carolina, the odds were stacked against him, making his ascent to the United States Senate all the more remarkable. With relentless determination and the invaluable support of public education, he blazed a trail through local politics in his thirties, defying expectations at every turn.
Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, on Monday officially announced he’s running for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. But Scott’s vision for the country makes no sense at all.
Instead of boldly bridging the persistent gaps in wealth and racial equality that affected him, Scott’s policies would exacerbate them. While his personal journey stands as a powerful testament to the boundless potential of the American dream, his political track record paints a contrasting image—one where the advancement of Black individuals is woefully overlooked.
Let’s start with Sen. Scott’s record on the economy. When Donald Trump was president, Scott partnered with him on an idea called “Opportunity Zones.” The concept was simple and, on its face, seemed promising. The federal government would find Black and minority communities that needed a boost, and inject business and federal investment to revitalize them. However, once the program began, the exact opposite happened.
A study conducted by the Joint Committee on Taxation found a stark and unsettling inequality in investment distribution. Shockingly, a mere one percent of opportunity zones accounted for a staggering 42 percent of the total investment. If that wasn’t harrowing enough, an astonishing 78 percent of investments flowed into just five percent of the zones.
In combination with these alarming figures, a comprehensive report from The New York Times exposed the cruel reality that numerous Black entrepreneurs seeking funding were systematically excluded from the process. Regrettably, it appears that investors were predominantly fixated on high-return projects within the zones, such as opulent real estate developments, while neglecting the potential of lower-margin initiatives that could genuinely uplift Black communities by creating sustainable jobs and vital services.
The detrimental impact of Scott's policies on the economy do not end there. Scott was an ardent advocate of the radical Trump tax plan. He unabashedly boasted about his instrumental role in drafting the legislation declaring, “I helped write the bill for the past year, have multiple provisions included, and got multiple senators on board.” The plan has proven to be nothing short of a disaster for the very Black working families he claims to champion.
Rather than utilizing the tax code as a catalyst for advancing racial equity, such as by bolstering the Earned Income Tax Credit—an invaluable work credit that can provide financial support or reduce federal tax burdens—the Trump-Scott tax law has shamelessly tilted in favor of affluent households occupying the highest rungs of the income distribution. A damning report jointly published by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy and Prosperity Now reveals that white households within the top-earning one percent receive an exorbitant 23.7 percent of the law’s total tax cuts. On average, “white households receive $2,020 in cuts, while Black households receive $840.”
Furthermore, Scott's track record reveals a troubling pattern of actively undermining avenues of healthcare that could significantly benefit a majority of Black Americans.
One example is his staunch opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and his efforts to defund crucial healthcare initiatives. Under the ACA, states were granted the option to expand Medicaid, a government healthcare program designed to provide vital care to millions of low-income Americans. While numerous states embraced this opportunity, Scott's own state chose not to participate.
He further displayed a lack of support for sustaining Medicaid funding for states that had previously embraced the ACA during the House Republicans’ campaign to dismantle it in 2017. Without hesitation, he confidently declared, “The reality of it is there is no way to get this done if you don’t make whole those states that were more fiscally responsible and did not expand.”
Medical professionals and extensive policy research have shown that Scott’s ideas on healthcare are incorrect. A study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund reveals the significant advantages associated with expanded Medicaid eligibility between 2013 and 2021. States that chose to expand their Medicaid programs experienced lower racial and ethnic disparities, providing enhanced coverage and improved access to healthcare services for their populations.
Scott’s failure to recognize these tremendous benefits further highlights his disconnect from the needs of Black communities, and his disregard for the importance of addressing racial inequities in our healthcare system.
It is crucial to acknowledge the profound impact that policies such as the ACA and a fair tax code can have in ensuring that all Black Americans have a shot at the American dream. The research unequivocally demonstrates the positive outcomes achieved when the federal government embraces these initiatives. Yet, Scott’s record is one of dismantling the progress we’ve made and reflects a concerning lack of understanding for the struggles faced by Black Americans.
Far from being a singular voting bloc or monolithic entity, the Black community is a diverse tapestry. Anyone who claims otherwise is gravely mistaken. Each voter within this community possesses their own unique set of concerns and priorities that must be addressed by any presidential candidate seeking their support. However, when examining Tim Scott's track record on these critical kitchen table issues that profoundly influence the lives of the majority of Black Americans, it becomes abundantly clear why his candidacy for president should be unequivocally rejected.
The importance of having leaders who wholeheartedly embrace and address the concerns that shape the lived experiences of Black Americans cannot be overstated. While Scott’s personal journey is undeniably remarkable, his absence in championing crucial causes for Black people raises serious doubts about his suitability for higher office.
We must demand leaders who unwaveringly prioritize the health, well-being, and prosperity of all Americans, regardless of their race or background. Settling for anything less in this critical moment is simply not an option. The urgency of the challenges faced by the Black community demands leaders who will go beyond rhetoric, and deliver substantive policies that uplift and empower. We cannot afford to compromise in our pursuit of a more just and equitable society.