BET Founder Bob Johnson to Trump: I Applaud You For 401(k) Auto Portability Program

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BET Founder Bob Johnson praised President Trump at a White House event Wednesday for a program that will benefit low-income black and Hispanic Americans.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Today we are also proud to be joined by one of America’s most admired business leaders, the co-founder of the television network, BET, Bob Johnson. Bob, please. Hi, Bob. (Applause.) How are you? Nice to see you.

MR. JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. President. I’m here to applaud you on two things. One, you may not even know about but Tim Scott does.



THE PRESIDENT: Good.

MR. JOHNSON: Just recently, your Department of Labor signed a historic document that created something called “auto portability.” Auto portability is designed to reduce retirement leakage among low-income 401(k) account holders who tend to cash out. And, Mr. President, you should know this: Sixty percent of African American and Hispanic Americans cash out of their 401(k) account.

When this program — the policy that Secretary Acosta initiated along with my company — is implemented, along with the big financial record keepers — the Fidelities, the Vanguards — this program will put close to $800 billion back in the retirement pockets of minority Americans. So I just want to applaud you for that. (Applause.)

Now, getting to the — getting to the most important thing, most of all — most of you probably know that I started BET on a half-a-million-dollar loan from a guy named John Malone. That $500,000 in — that John Malone put into BET allowed me, along with a lot of other minority employees and others, to build a $4 billion business.

What this proves is the efficacy, Mr. President, of a program that allows capital to flow to places where people are seeking out opportunity. And I am convinced that this program, where the tax incentives flowing out of the Treasury Department to business people, will cause people to invest money where before they saw risk, now they will see opportunity. And that combination of putting money into communities will allow for those communities to become vibrant, to become safe, to create ownership, and, most important, to contribute to the wellbeing of this country.

I’m a fundamental believer that there are business solutions to social problems. The Opportunity Zone program is that. And I applaud you and Tim Scott for taking the leadership on it. Thank you.


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