All Articles Tagged "black caucus"
It was supposed to have been a grand, new, unprecedented push on jobs engineered more for its symbolic impact than what it could really deliver. Still, the goal was game change after the White House felt besieged by weeks of testy Congressional Black Caucus town halls and accusations of detachment in the wake of a very bad, very ill-timed decision to vacation Martha’s Vineyard. It took a downgraded hurricane to bring the First Family back down from moving on up, a message from Mother Nature that, hey, optics mean everything in politics. Not begrudging your need to take a vacation – we all need one, as does a father of two who happens to lead the free world. But, when unemployment still hovers at a fixed 10 percent, the last place you should be is a location synonymous with old money elite. Taking a bus ride prior to lavish destination through very white and rural Main Street without even a pit stop at a friendly black corner adds vinegar to the situation.
Instead, this particular President presents an awful, rather redundant tendency of offering his … platform on a platter, giving his opponents the ammunition they need to stage an effective blowback for 2012. Granted, he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t since Republicans are making it obvious. But, he’s also the President, and one would think he has a choice or can offer the impression of having the strength or political muscle of choice in shaping outcomes.
In the case of this week’s big pivot to job growth, we found President Obama getting low-blowed and punked again, this time allowing GOP pettiness to overshadow any decent headlines on Administration jobs initiatives. Just as he became the first Commander-in-Chief in U.S. history to preside over a credit downgrade, he is now the first to allow a House Speaker to reject a scheduling request for a speech before a Joint Session of Congress. Insult to injury is when he actually let House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reset the date, pushed by a Caucus sandbox that wanted Americans to watch bickering tea party-panderers deliver Best-of-Obama-Jokes. It’s not the best legacy of firsts to have when already a first black President. And in all the President’s gut instinct reflex not to fall into the trap of “angry black man” on public tirade, he’s not offering the stare-down of any restored masculinity, especially in an age when black men are being systematically emasculated into limp-wristed social stooges. Some measured “don’t-f***-with-me” push back from the most powerful brother on the planet would be nice.
When we’re looking for Muay Thai roundhouse kicks on old fools’ heads, the White House stomps off and pouts in a corner, soon followed by soft-power Tai Chi punches on the virtues of “bipartisanship.” But, calls for political comity fall on deaf ears because a weary public that doesn’t really follow political process all that much doesn’t care – it just wants a solution, regardless of how sloppy it might end up.
What’s also missing is some aggressive pragmatism in what the White House has announced insofar as its jobs plan. There are platitudes about tearing down red tape and putting the onus on Congress to get something “legislative” done. We can’t realistically expect a “second stimulus” in the current budget climate now dictated by Super Committee. But, there could be a combination of used ideas mixed in with new stuff that’s simple and quick in application.
Some economists have suggested now is the time to strongly consider a wide-ranging “debt forgiveness” program, which could be useful for the unemployed on brink of foreclosure. The federal government might not have any more money for an emergency mortgage loan program. Yet, why not keep the component that permits unemployed homeowners not to pay their mortgages for a set period?
Additionally, where is the large “credit forgiveness” program where credit rating agencies cease negative reporting on those unemployed due to recession-driven layoffs? Again: something that allows enough time to get folks on track and in recovery.
While a $5,000 tax credit to companies for hiring seems sensible, it’s not really applying needed pressure on employers hoarding nearly $2 trillion in cash that could otherwise be used to fill vacancies. Legislation already introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) eliminates discrimination on the basis of being unemployed; Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) wants to cut out the widespread practice of employer rejection based on negative credit scores.
In the meantime, the Administration could examine a larger national unemployment insurance program that offers several options: 1) working for benefits to keep the jobless busy and taking away an excuse from employers who won’t hire long-term unemployed; 2) facilitating a technology training program as a way to rejuvenate lost skills while out of market; 3) investing in opportunities for some to attend public universities full time (rather than community colleges) on in-state tuition and drawing on a combination of conditional unemployment benefits, Pell Grants and student loans; 4) or, drawing on benefits as the jobless are trained on key trades, from manufacturing to cosmetology. It could be a way to revive the unemployed.
This White House forgets football fans love ugly wins. They also dig soul-stirring inspirational speeches in the locker room before kick-off, like Al Pacino’s classic pre-game monologue in Any Given Sunday. Every moment wasted in a now aimless El Segundo road trip on quest for “bipartisanship” is a moment when the President should be searching for a bully pulpit and yelling “charge!” On jobs, folks are looking for their medieval Scottish hero in blue paint who moons the enemy.
Charles D. Ellison is Chief Political Correspondent for The Philadelphia Tribune, author of the critically-acclaimed urban political thriller TANTRUM and a nationally recognized, frequently featured expert on politics.
With the recent Gallup Poll showing that President Obama has slowly began to lose support within the black community – the Congressional Black Caucus hasn’t been shy with their distaste for Obama’s political direction. Adding fuel to the fire, the CBC seems to be taking up their frustrations with the source of its discourse – the Tea Party.
Even though Obama’s approval rating has decreased to 81% from the 95% earlier in his term, some heavy players in the CBC are urging Obama to finally make moves when it comes to his 2008 campaign promises.
Maryland US Representative, Elijah Cummings admits that he is not the only one in the Caucus to feel frustrated by the President’s recent actions.
“When he came in, he talked about hope, he talked about jobs, he has talked about fairness, he has talked about addressing Wall Street effectively and efficiently, and trying to make a difference,” Cummings told CNN’s State of the Union talk show on Sunday.
It also didn’t help matters much with Obama appearing to coddle the Tea Party during the government cutbacks.
Since unemployment in the black community is at approximately 16% (with no alleviation in sight) – many in the CBC are tired of waiting for Obama to fight back. That mentality has caused the 43-lawmaker team to go up against the Tea Party to make their opinions known.
“The Tea Party discovered something. That is if they organize, if they talk loud enough, if they threaten, if they register to vote and elect a few people, they can take over the Congress of the United States. They called our bluff and we blinked. We should have made them walk the plank,” US Representative Maxine Waters told onlookers at a CBC job fair in Atlanta, Georgia.
During another summit in California, Waters again lashed out towards the group.
“I’m not afraid of anybody. This is a tough game. You can’t be intimidated. You can’t be frightened. And as far as I’m concerned, the ‘tea party’ can go straight to Hell.”
Of course, such comments didn’t go unnoticed by the group for that long. Soon after Waters comments spread a prominent Tea Party group, the ‘Tea Party Patriots’ quickly came to its defense.
“…now an elected Democratic representative says that we can ‘go straight to hell. The president and all leaders of the Democratic Party, who have called for civility in the past, are neglecting to censure their own. Is civility only required from their opponents? Perhaps it’s time for a new-NEW era of civility. … The president’s silence on these latest violations of civility has been deafening, but not surprising.”
Even with all this, it is hard paint the Tea Party as the victim, being that they made it their mission to “destroy” the current government and how some view it. Are they really surprised that there is push back or are they surprised about whom is doing so? Especially now, since the CBC is refusing to sit idly by and do nothing – only time will tell how this all will pan out.
Cynthia Wright is an avid lover of all things geeky. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on her blog BGA Life and on Twitter at @cynisright.
(Washington Post) — Black lawmakers are embarking on a monthlong campaign Monday to address the staggering unemployment rate among African Americans, an issue that has become a growing source of tension between members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Obama administration. Lawmakers have met with the administration three times this year seeking support for programs that specifically address the black community, but President Obama has not backed their proposals. The caucus chairman last week slammed the deal negotiated by the administration to raise the national debt ceiling and cut government spending as a “Satan sandwich” that unfairly harms African Americans. Now, as the CBC launches its most public and coordinated jobs campaign so far, the president is notably absent from the lineup. Instead, the White House has dispatched Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan, who is white, to the event and announced that Obama will embark on his own jobs tour that will take place in the middle of the CBC’s campaign.
(Huffington Post) — Members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursdayy publicly accused the Obama administration of failing to adequately address a veritable epidemic of African American unemployment. ”Can you imagine a situation where any other group of workers, if 34 percent of white women were out there looking for work and couldn’t find it?” asked Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat and chairman of the caucus. “You would see congressional hearings and community gatherings. There would be rallies and protest marches. There is no way that this would be allowed to stand.”
(McClatchy Newspapers) — House Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, on Wednesday blamed most of President Barack Obama’s political problems on racism. Clyburn, who’s from South Carolina and is a close ally of the president, offered his views in response to a question about Obama’s re-election prospects next year. ”I think they’re improving every day,” Clyburn said. “I think the president has been a good president, a great commander in chief.” Clyburn, who met his wife at a 1960 court hearing after spending a night in jail for having engaged in a civil rights protest in Orangeburg, S.C., then brought up Obama’s race as the first black president.
(Chicago Sun Times) — Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) was chosen by his colleagues on Wednesday to chair the City Council’s Black Caucus, promising to fight to preserve the number of Council seats held by black aldermen, redeploy police officers to high-crime areas and bolster the share of city contracts awarded to African-Americans.
(Politico) – Members of the Congressional Black Caucus pressed President Barack Obama to focus on creating more jobs in hard-hit cities during an hour-long meeting at the White House Thursday. It was the first meeting between the full caucus and the president, a former member, since Obama took office in 2009, and comes on the heels of a clear-the-air session between the CBC and White House chief of staff Bill Daley. Speaking after the meeting, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), the caucus chairman, said he believes Obama understands the “urgency” of near-record black unemployment, and that he’s “trying to heal this economy” for everyone, but said the caucus is committed to “unapologetically pushing” the president for jobs programs targeted at African American communities.
(Washington Post) — As Rep. James E. Clyburn settles behind his desk on the first floor of the Capitol, the view behind him — of the office buildings across Independence Avenue — is less than commanding. His office is high-ceilinged but narrow, and the walls are bare. Multiple aides are crammed into an adjoining room. It’s a far cry from the spacious third-floor suite the South Carolina lawmaker occupied when he served as majority whip. But now that Democrats have been relegated to the minority, Clyburn is fortunate just to have an office in the Capitol and, more importantly, a place at the leadership table.
After their electoral drubbing in November, House Democratic leaders played an unusual game of musical chairs in which, rather than leave someone standing, they simply decided to add another seat. Thus was born Clyburn’s current title — assistant Democratic leader. The post was created after it became clear that Clyburn couldn’t beat Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) for the minority whip position, but he also didn’t want to unseat either of the two men below him on the leadership ladder: Democratic Caucus Chairman John B. Larson (Conn.) and Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.)
(St. Louis American) — The Missouri Legislative Black Caucus urged the Gov. Jay Nixon Wednesday to veto a workplace discrimination bill, which came to his desk on April 18. Senate bill 188 would take the state backwards in terms of civil rights, caucus members said, by making discrimination cases more difficult to file for women, seniors, minorities and people with disabilities or illnesses. On April 13, the state Senate passed the bill, which modifies certain provisions of the Missouri Human Rights Act regarding employment. A coalition of women’s organizations, the state- and national-level National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, trial attorneys, advocacy groups for the disabled and labor unions have joined together to push Nixon to veto the bill. Nixon has 14 days to decide.
(Washington Post) — Forty years ago, the purpose of a caucus to represent African Americans in Congress seemed clear to its founders: to eradicate racism. The 13 legislators who formed the Congressional Black Caucus in March 1971 saw themselves as representatives of black people all over the country. Theirs was a role akin to civil rights activists. Only they had the bully pulpit of the country’s most powerful legislative body. The current caucus members , who are marking the anniversary of its founding this week, have a mission that is more diffuse, a role that is harder to define and power that has been fully absorbed into the nation’s political system. For one, the caucus has 43 members from urban and rural districts. It includes one Republican. A handful of its members have been elected from majority-white districts. Eight have faced ethics investigations in the past three years. One of its members is the third-most powerful House Democrat, and a former caucus member sits in the White House.
“There are challenges today that we did not have then,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., who chairs the caucus and represents a district that is majority white. “We cannot at all times have all of the members in sync because of the differences we have in our constituencies. But most of the time when we vote our conscience, we end up voting in a block.” The challenges faced by the modern CBC include forging a relationship with the White House. President Obama met Wednesday with its leadership team. The conversation was wide-ranging, according to a CBC spokeswoman, and focused on federal budget issues and the country’s long-term investment in poor communities.