Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has had a rough couple of days.
The head of the Democratic Party appeared on Univision's "Al Punto" (To the Point) on Sunday and toward the end of the interview, journalist Patricia Janiot asked Perez a question that he clearly did not anticipate.
Patricia Janiot, Univision: Mr. Perez, President Trump has achieved something important, especially for Latinos, which is to reduce the unemployment rate to historic lows. How, then, can the Democrats compete with a president that has been beneficial to Latinos on economic matters?
Tom Perez, DNC: The economic situation in the United States is excellent for the wealthy like Trump, but the economic situation is still bad for our community and that's why we have to elect Democrats.
Here are the facts
Perez's claim that the economy is only benefiting wealthy Americans and leaving Hispanics behind may be a common talking point on the left, but it is not backed by data. Here is what the numbers show:
- Income is up: According to official economic data, median household income for U.S. Hispanics has never been higher. In 2017, it hit a record high of $50,486. As the Census Bureau told CNSNews in 2018, "we can confirm that real median household income [for Hispanics] was higher in 2017 than in any prior year for which we have data." This was even confirmed by Politifact. Income growth continued through 2018 with a 1.5% increase from 2017 levels, reaching $51,404.
- Poverty is down: The poverty rate among Hispanics is the lowest it has ever been. According to a February 2019 report published by the Census Bureau, while there was an overall decline in the poverty rate in 2017, "the rate among Hispanics had one of the largest year-to-year drops across demographic groups and was the lowest since poverty estimates for Hispanics were first published in 1972." Moreover, as economists regularly point out, the true poverty rate is likely much lower than official government estimates that fail to account for major social programs and other benefits.
- Entrepreneurship is up: A bipartisan congressional reported noted in 2017 that Hispanic entrepreneurship levels are skyrocketing. "The rate of new entrepreneurs in 2017 was much higher for Latinos than for any other racial group—Latinos are 1.7 times more likely to start businesses," noted the report." As a 2019 Bank of America study confirmed, Hispanic businesses are thriving with 87% of entrepreneurs indicating they plan on expanding their businesses over the next year.
Latino conservatives wreck Perez
Jorge Bonilla, the director of MRC Latino, the country's largest Hispanic media watchdog, blasted the former Obama administration member's response as incoherent:
Perez' answer, taken at face value, is not only false given the clear economic criteria under upon the question is premised, but is also a tacit admission that perhaps Hispanics didn't have it so great under the Obama administration. To suggest that the economy is somehow "still bad" for Hispanics, as Perez did here, is to affirm that it was bad for Hispanics before Trump took over. You can't have one without the other, and that statement nullifies Perez' proposed solution which is, of course, to vote for Democrats.
Over on Twitter, conservative commentator Christian Camara (aka Reaganista) ripped Perez's comments as eerily reminiscent of Latin American left-wing talking points:
Meanwhile, the head of the Miami Young Republicans, Armando Ibarra, called Perez a "loser" for trying to "instill a victim complex in Hispanics."
If the DNC chair's pandering is any indication, the Democrats' struggles to excite and win over Hispanic voters have not gone away.