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White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters on Wednesday that he does not believe systemic racism exists in the U.S., despite historic discrimination against black Americans in the job market, the housing market and the disproportionate impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on racial minorities.

Driving the news: More than two weeks of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing has prompted politicians and businesses to publicly denounce racism in the U.S. and call for policy changes to address structural inequalities.

What he's saying: "I don't believe there's systemic racism in the U.S. I'm not gonna go into a long riff on it. Black employment increased 300,000, did you know that? You didn't, right. So, that's a big win. And the black employment-to-population ratio went up over a percentage point. That's a big win."

  • "We do believe that returning to growth and prosperity creates opportunities for everybody. And we have also worked very hard putting out about a thousand opportunity zones with various tax regulatory breaks. ... We've given a lot of money to historic black colleges and universities. We've worked for very strong criminal justice reforms," Kudlow said.
  • "I will say it again: I do not," Kudlow responded when a reporter asked again if he believed there is systemic racism against African Americans in the U.S.
  • "I think the harm comes when you have very bad apples on the law enforcement side. What was done to Mr. Floyd was abysmal. I believe everyone in this country agrees with that. I think scholars like Heather Mac Donald and others have rebutted that. And I think there will be reforms," he said.
  • "I think part of this coming back together ... the president is a law and order man. Law and order is good for growth. Law and order is good for families. Law and order is good for people of all colors — it's a unifying message."

Where it stands: Under half of black adults in the U.S. currently have a job amid mass unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic — a rate lower than Hispanic, Asian and white Americans, per the New York Times.

Go deeper

Trump says he "up-played" the coronavirus

President Trump said during an ABC town hall Tuesday evening that he did not downplay the coronavirus, adding "in many ways, I up-played it in terms of action."

Reality check: The president told journalist Bob Woodward during an on-the-record interview in March that he intentionally understated the severity of COVID-19 in public statements to avoid inciting panic.

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.