In California, Wisconsin, Portland, Seattle, Chicago – and wherever there are protests, homelessness, forest fires, or other problems – Democrats are to blame.

Just ask President Trump or one of my readers who writes regularly if he agrees with him.

Los Angeles has tens of thousands of homeless people, they say. The mayor is a democrat. The city council is full of Democrats. The legislature is dominated by Democrats who work with a Democratic governor. Here you go. It's all your fault.

This only makes sense when you consider that in the Central Valley, home to many Republican lawmakers, local officials, and some of Trump's most powerful allies in Congress, the cities up and down Highway 99 have large homeless populations. Are democrats to blame there too?

Look, there are many reasons to reconsider the work of the California Democrats, who have just closed a legislative session with "achievements surpassed by the deep problems of communities across California," as my colleague John Myers put it days ago .

And I have thought many times about the failure of our fearless leaders to deal with the housing crisis, homelessness and other problems. And now the city of LA is in another budget problem after local leaders approved increases for police officers and others they cannot afford to pay.

But Trump has been even more awkward than usual lately, suggesting he must believe polls that say he is losing to a man he accuses of falling asleep in his basement. The president recently railed about planes full of black-clad thugs traveling to spread violent rioting. He has warned that Joe Biden is a radical controlled by the far left, that gang members are moving in next door, and that Democrats plan to abolish suburbs once they burn down cities.

It's interesting that the president of a country with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths, millions of unemployed and rising white supremacy is telling us what could go wrong if he loses. It's like the manager of a losing ball club insists on a contract renewal so he can put an end to the skid.

Regarding urban unrest, vandalism and violence cannot be tolerated and some mayors had no idea how to react. But the characterization of the widespread chaos tolerated by Democrats is fiction.

I was wondering what it's like to keep getting beaten up by Trump for everything, here in the state with the fifth largest economy in the world, so I phoned some local Democratic officials.

LA district manager Hilda Solis fell somewhere between outrage and blatant indifference.

“This President believes that the way to get re-elected is to create fear and encourage more riots, protests and civil disobedience. For me it creates more chaos, ”said Solis, who also served in the legislature, in Congress and as labor secretary in the Obama administration.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, another Democrat, said crime rates have fallen in many cities. (However, hate crimes grew 17% in Trump's first year as president, according to the FBI). Garcia was particularly angry with Trump's suggestion that Democrats all but approve of mob rule in the streets.

"I don't know of any mayor … who is not strongly against looting and crime and we are doing everything in our power to make sure this does not happen while recognizing the importance of peaceful protest," said Garcia.

And why could people march?

It is partly about patterns of excessive police force and systemic racism. But it's also about decades of political decisions by both major political parties that have trapped far too many people in shoddy housing, jobs that don't pay the bills, schools that are ill-equipped to level the playing field, and cities that the budget mending holes in part, but not entirely done by themselves.

Federal aid accounted for 13% of municipal budgets in 1978, said Peter Dreier, professor of urban policy at Occidental College. But under President Reagan, big cuts began.

"Federal funding now only accounts for about 3% of municipal budgets," said Dreier, who added that Trump proposed "the most drastic cuts to cities of any president since Reagan, but Congress has not approved most of them."

Supervisor Solis said it had been harder to get federal funding for transportation and housing since Trump took office, and Mayor Garcia had a similar observation.

“Under Obama, they have sent regular support and have been really committed at all levels of the federal government. And that changed immediately when Trump took office, ”he said. "He's trying to ignite and create more division, and his policies have made things worse. He's put in a tax cut program that benefits the top 1% and big companies, and he's opposed to fundamental improvements like the increase of the minimum wage. "

Yes, but we need a lot more than an increase in the minimum wage.

Five years ago, when an aircraft assembly plant in Long Beach was closed, I saw Boeing employees who were making $ 40 an hour in union jobs struggling to find a job that paid half that amount. When investigating why more than 20% of the students at Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima were homeless two years ago, I found that the school was surrounded by enclosed aerospace and manufacturing facilities.

None of the major political parties have responded well enough to the global forces that have made middle class wages tight and created income inequality in the US.

Two months before election day, Trump promises to "lower taxes and regulations to a previously unknown level".

Biden's job is to tax the rich and invest in green jobs, housing, education and childcare for working parents.

May the best plan win.

Trump was right when he said four years ago that the system had been rigged against the little guy, but through a lot of measures he manipulated it even more and guess what – people should march both on the streets and to the elections.

The tax cut was weighted for the rich to widen the income gap. Employment growth was mainly due to relatively poorly paid jobs. The promised return of manufacturing orders was largely a flop. Not only has the guarantee of cheaper and better health care never materialized, but millions have lost their coverage.

I thought Trump's best pitch four years ago was a national infrastructure program that would create high-paying jobs for legions of Americans.

"We will repair our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals," he said in a victory speech. "We're going to rebuild our infrastructure, which incidentally will be second to none, and we're going to put millions of people to rebuild."

It never happened.

And Trump cannot blame the Democrats for that.

steve.lopez@latimes.com

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