President Trump’s Plan to Save America’s Cities

President Trump understands our cities must be great for America to be great.

by Newt Gingrich

With all the devastating news about urban crime, drug overdoses, illegal immigration, rampant homelessness, out-of-control budgets, and educational failures, it is encouraging that President Donald Trump has committed his next administration to a saving America’s cities.

As Just the News reported, “With the nation’s first primary state as a backdrop, former President Donald Trump took aim Saturday at Democrats’ urban strongholds, vowing to both secure and revitalize blue cities weary from years of violence and economic decay.”

As the outlet reported, President Trump told a crowd in Durham, New Hampshire, “We’re going to rebuild our cities into beacons of hope, safety, and beauty. It will be the greatest investment ever made.” 

This is encouraging. All too often, Republicans have neglected our great cities – or been openly hostile toward them because of their Democratic leadership.

Perhaps the most famous example of this was an Oct. 29, 1975 speech in which then-President Gerald Ford explained why he would not help New York City with its fiscal crisis. 

The following day, the New York Daily News had a huge page-one headline: “Ford to City: Drop Dead.”

President Ford was philosophically right as a fiscal conservative and federalist, but the political message was devastating for Republicans.

I served with Buffalo Congressman Jack Kemp, who was the most innovative pro-city Republican with whom I have ever worked. Kemp developed a program for enterprise zones to help encourage business development in the poorest parts of cities. Working with civil rights activist Bob Woodson, the two developed a program to allow people in public housing to put in sweat equity and eventually gain ownership of their units. Kemp and Woodson followed Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in trying to create an ownership society. 

One of the most striking moments in U.S. House debate history was when an outraged Democrat Congressman Barney Frank, who opposed Kemp’s proposal, argued that under the plan, a poor family in New York City might be able to acquire a property worth $1 million in the New York market. It did not seem to occur to Frank that helping poor people become wealthy was a good idea.

President Trump, a product of Queens and Manhattan, understands that we cannot be a great nation if our great cities decay and die. Consider his own words from a speech about saving America’s cities in Reno, Nevada:

“[W]e’re going to indemnify police officers and law enforcement officials throughout the United States from being destroyed by the radical left for taking strong actions on crime. They’re going to be indemnified… Policemen are forced not to do anything when they want to, and under the threat of losing their pension, their house, their family, they lose everything, and they’re afraid to move. … We’re not going to let that happen anymore. 

“In addition, we will take over our horribly-run Washington, DC – and clean up, renovate, and rebuild, our Capitol, so that it is no longer a nightmare of murder and crime. You see what’s happening. But rather, will become the most beautiful Capitol anywhere in the world. It’s a mess. It’s a filthy, disgusting, mess. Our parks will be cleaned, the tents and graffiti, all of these tents and graffiti, right in the middle of the most beautiful parks in the world. Those tents and graffiti will be removed. Slum areas will be demolished and rebuilt to the highest level of architectural elegance. Washington, DC will become a symbol of beauty, security, freedom, and strength…   

“In addition to our Capitol, we are going to rebuild our cities into beacons of hope, safety, and beauty. Better than they have ever been before. We are going to focus on our cities… It will be the greatest investment ever made in these cities. And we will work closely with Democrat leaders. They are all run by Democrats, if you can believe it. But we’ll work closely with the Democrat leaders of all these failing places to make sure that this rebuilding will be a lasting and compassionate one. It’ll be a great rebuilding. Safety will again be restored, so that our children can go out with their parents, mother, and father, and play in the park without being beat up, molested, or shot. Students will be able to walk to school in peace, criminal rates will plummet, and people will long just long to move back to the city again.”

The fact that President Trump explicitly included working closely with Democrat leaders is a good step toward making the second Trump administration more bipartisan – but still deeply committed to reform.

This was an encouraging speech for our future and a real commitment to save America’s citizens. It is a good step toward bringing Americans together and healing some of the partisan divisions.

Those who are committed to union incompetence, leftwing extremism, and keeping power will fight against a program to save America’s cities. Most Americans, however, will be excited by the vision of a safe, prosperous, and forward-looking urban future.

I expect the American people will win.

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