Issues & Insights

Trump’s Attack on Baltimore Doesn’t Go Far Enough

I&I Editorial

Say what you want about President Trump’s Twitter habits, he has a way of suddenly bringing an issue to the surface that people have long known about, but never wanted to confront. The only problem with his latest tweetstorm about Baltimore is that he hasn’t gone far enough.

On Friday, Trump attacked Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, who had been complaining about conditions at the border, by saying “his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous.” Trump called it “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

He’s right about the rats. Last year, the pest-control service Orkin rated Baltimore as one of the “rattiest cities, behind Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Cleveland.

Naturally, Trump’s tweets are being labeled as racist. Never mind that Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders was saying far worse things about the city a few years ago, when he said that when you go to west Baltimore you “would think you were in a Third World country.” 

Trump, meanwhile, extended his attack to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home town of San Francisco. 

He should widen his lens even further. 

Take a look at the eight other cities that beat Baltimore on Orkin’s rattiest cities list. What do they all have in common? We’ll, let’s see:

Chicago hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1931. Philadelphia last saw a Republican mayor in 1952, Detroit in 1962. San Francisco has been Democrat-controlled since 1964. Washington, D.C., has never had a Republican mayor.

In Los Angeles, Democrats have run the city in all but eight of the past 58 years, in New York, it’s eight in the past 74 (not counting John Lindsay, who switched parties while in office). Cleveland’s been run by Democrats in all but 16 of the past 78 years.

Indeed, if you want to see what liberal Democratic policies tend to produce, go to any one of those cities, or other Democratic strongholds. Democrats promise to help the poor and downtrodden, grow the middle class, make life more fair. But their policies consistently produce the opposite.

These cities are rife with crime. Baltimore ranks No. 1 for robberies and No. 2 for murders. Many of the other rat-infested cities also rank high for violent crimes. Their infrastructure is crumbling. The middle class has largely abandoned them. 

And far from tackling inequality, Democrats have made it worse. Washington, San Francisco and New York are all in the top 10 for biggest income inequality levels, according to the Brookings Institution. Other Democrat cities — Providence, Miami, Boston, New Orleans — are also on the list. 

Washington, San Francisco, New York, Detroit, and Cleveland are also among the 10 worst-run cities, according to WalletHub. Three other Democratic strongholds — Oakland, Flint, Hartford — make WalletHub’s worst-run list. 

Yet, whenever the desperate conditions of these cities get discussed, they’re treated either as if these problems simply fell out of the sky, that somehow Republicans are to blame, or that more taxpayer money will solve everything. The connection to liberal policies never gets made.

So, rather than focus on Baltimore and Cummings, Trump would do well to point out that it’s decades of Democratic rule that have destroyed some of the country’s finest cities. High taxes and intrusive regulations make them inhospitable to business. Government control and union cronyism encourage waste and corruption. Soft-on-crime attitudes lead to more crime, drug abuse, and rampant homelessness. 

You see the same thing at the state level. Of the 10 worst-run states in the country, all but one is solidly Democratic. And of the best-run states, only one is Democratic, according to a ranking by the Mercatus Center.

This has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with the sorts of policies the left has implemented, policies that history shows over and over again do not work.

This is the message the public needs to hear. And it’s one Trump is uniquely qualified to get across.

— Written by John Merline

Issues & Insights is a new site formed by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. We’re just getting started, and we’ll be adding new features as time permits. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

Be sure to tell all your friends! And if you’d like to make a contribution to support our effort, feel free to click the Tip Jar over on the right sidebar.

We Could Use Your Help

Issues & Insights was founded by seasoned journalists of the IBD Editorials page. Our mission is to provide timely, fact-based reporting and deeply informed analysis on the news of the day -- without fear or favor.

We’re doing this on a voluntary basis because we believe in a free press, and because we aren't afraid to tell the truth, even if it means being targeted by the left. Revenue from ads on the site help, but your support will truly make a difference in keeping our mission going. If you like what you see, feel free to visit our Donations Page by clicking here. And be sure to tell your friends!

You can also subscribe to I&I: It's free!

Just enter your email address below to get started.


I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • These cities are “sanctuaries” for a whole lot more than individuals evading immigation law enforcement. The police, the community volunteers, churches and the social service providers never give up trying, but when there’s no competition in the elective “governance” sector (Mayors, Council members, judicial personnel, etc), then benign neglect is the BEST we can hope for.

    • Apparently, sanctuary for some of DC’s most effective, yet least famous blackmailers, swindlers and grifters!

  • Correlation does not equal causality. All large cities have issues with rats, regardless of the party in charge. This has been the case throughout history, and will likely continue to be the case throughout history.

    • No they don’t!! I live in Houston, Texas and the closest thing to a rat you’ll see is a squirrel! Your FOS!

    • I think the author’s comments go far beyond the simple mammal, Joe. It’s a broad statement about liberal policy (agree with it or not), not rats. I’m not saying I have the answers, but the ruling party in these cities (the dems) has not done much good for the inhabitants.

      • In Maryland there is no excuse for anyone letting trash pile up behind their houses, nor is there any excuse for dumping furniture or a mattress on a bridge that crosses the tide water of the Chesapeake Bay. In an attempt to eliminate trash dumping, there are multiple trash drop sites where you can drop anything, including yard waste, for free. They don’t even ask for ID when entering the facility. It’s caused by people who either want the rats, or are too lazy to do anything about it.

    • The point of the article was that the objectively WORST cities have been dominated by Democrat policies for decades. In this case, the correlation is clearly causal.

    • The point of the article is that cities run by Democrats have the worst rat problems, based on the objective evidence. In this case, the correlation is clearly causal.

    • Not all large cities have been subjected to policies typical of Democrats, which in the guise of ‘fairness’ and ‘redistribution’ end up pushing the productive and wealthy out — with the side effect of creating a new dependent demography that simultaneously insures the re-election of the miscreant politicians and impoverishes the city. See Detroit as a case study. BTW, the Glaeser-Schleifer article on Curley-ization should be required reading for anyone who actually cares about the health of our cities.

    • Not even a good dodge. Focus on the problem, not your empty excuses. DemocRats run all of the USA’s worst, crime-ridden, crumbling cities. Deal with it.

  • you neglect to mention the demise of the Baltimore Opera, the Symphony is heavily in debt, building owners are trying to sell, the failure of the Sandtown-Winchester boondogle, and rats…rats everywhere. Hopkins has to post guards on every street around its campus

  • Trump didn’t follow the Democrat rule of ‘Don’t say anything bad about any black person or their behavior’ no matter how bad the issue. The media did this for 8 years with Obama. Had Obama had a life time tenure, the entire country would look like/be Baltimore.

  • They have, no doubt, a well paid bureaucracy efficient in chatter and shuffling paper.
    Trump is refining his “go back home” message for the home districts of Cummings, Pelosi, and others.
    I woukd ramp up the rhetoric to add that the Democratic party has gone from Slavery and Segregation to Slumlords.
    The current batch of candidates promise to babysit Americans from cradle to grave. That’s a far cry from JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you…” message of lower taxes, economic prosperity, and optimism.

    • Several universities have “safe space” dorms, and even graduations. They never gave up on segregation — they just use a different name.

  • The article is well constructed, factually correct, but unnecessary. The “right” already knows all this and the “left” doesnt care. That is the topic, why the left doesnt care. Is it the emphasis on feelings and emotion over facts and reality? Is it a purposeful and willful attitude to grab power and control the graft? Is it a conscious, or subconscious type of racism that creates and maintains these “plantations”?
    My guess is some evil mix of motives that has created these cesspools that skew all the stats for the economic conditions, education results, safety and living conditions, and even cultural norms.
    Good job on the introduction to a topic, now get to the meat.

  • “The connection to liberal policies never gets made.”

    And this is where Republicans are falling short. Instead of simply quoting high-level statistics or making blanket statements blaming Democrats, they need to highlight specific policies and actions (or inactions) imposed by Democrats over the years which directly contributed to this growing urban malaise.

    Housing is one of the biggest issues, at least in cities where the decent people aren’t lining up to leave. Liberal zoning, environmental, and rolls of bureaucratic red tape have made development near impossible, or at least so expensive that only luxury housing is worthwhile to create. Then you impose confiscatory rent control laws which place 100% of the cost of what is effectively a non-means tested subsidy on the property owners. The evidence of how destructive these policies are is legion.

    Republicans need to both identify this sorts of toxic governing and come up with innovative 21st century strategies to move past the mistakes that Democrats keep making over and over and over again.

    Trashing Democrats is easy. Cleaning up their collective mess is the real burden of leadership. It’s time we had some.

  • Short, sweet and on point…would LOVE to see further analysis on the crime stats (murder & robbery) relative to Cummins district….what % of the total derive from the 7th.

  • Apparently you never been to Alabama Georgia or Mississippi all run by republicans.

    • You are talking about states. These states don’t seem to be having problems with “rats.” Your comment does not specify the problems of these states and the correlation to squalid conditions, income disparities and murder rates.

      • Yeah, I thought we were talking about urban areas (not states), where the problems of sanitation, public health, housing, schools, crime (etc) are so prominent. The only major urban center (200,000+) in any of these 3 states is Atlanta. There have been 39 Democratic mayors in Atlanta’s history, including 27 consecutive Democrats starting with 1879. There have been only two Republican mayors of Atlanta: Dennis Hammond from 1871 to 1872 and Nedom L. Angier from 1877 to 1879. There has not been a Republican mayor since Reconstruction.

  • Big cities on bodies of water have rats. Who would have Thunk it.

    • Pictures taken in Cummings’ district show dumped garbage in everywhere in vacant lots and alleys that the city does not pick up. There are large numbers of abandoned buildings that are filled with garbage that the city hasn’t demolished. The district seems to suffer from neglect. Search Kimberly Klacik if you want to see the original tweeted videos.

  • The real problem isn’t confined to the mayor. In these major urban areas the entire city is controlled bu Democrats, and hard left Democrats at that. The city council. The police department. The fire department. City Administration. Department of Education. If you want a job, a contract, a permit, you have to go through their machine.

    The Socialist elite then takes hundreds of millions of dollars to construct areas of the city to live, to play and be entertained, and to educate their children shutting out their own constituents, who live lives of squalor.

  • Wow, funny how times have been turned into a political gang fight! Democrats against Republicans. When these two groups are supposed to work together to benefit everyone. There’s a bunch of insults we can throw around but why not save that energy and make change to fix them. Forget pointing fingers! Do what you were elected to do and make the People’s lives better! All these politicians pockets on both sides are fat enough! Start holding them accountable.Period!

  • Have you wondered why the American South is as backward as it is? My guess is they were all bastions of republican policy and leadership ..

  • Beware. Democrat candidates for President want to do for the rest of America what they’ve done to their own cities.

  • We need to pull the rug off these cities. Their problems should be brought out in the open or they will never be solved. The procedure for giving federal funds to these cities needs to be completely re evaluated. The has to be a procedure for accountability and progress.

About Issues & Insights

Issues & Insights is run by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

We Could Use Your Help

Help us fight for honesty in journalism and against the tyranny of the left. Issues & Insights is published by the editors of what once was Investor's Business Daily's award-winning opinion pages. If you like what you see, leave a donation by clicking on donate button above. You can also set up regular donations if you like. Ad revenue helps, but your support will truly make a difference. (Please note that we are not set up as a charitable organization, so donations aren't tax deductible.) Thank you!
%d bloggers like this: