President Obama addressed the Congressional Black Caucus about the future of the economy and black unemployment in September, telling the audience that his policies would lead to an economic recovery. The group has become increasingly critical of the president in recent months, especially after Labor Department figures showed black joblessness at 16.7 percent – almost double the national average and at a 27-year high.
The president was clearly revved up, telling the crowd of about 3,000 to “put on your marching shoes” and join the unemployment battle.
Obama continued to push his American Jobs Act, saying budget proposals by Republicans would only hurt black Americans more. He said the package will benefit 100,000 black-owned businesses and 20 million African-American workers. It will achieve this through infrastructure spending, payroll tax cuts, business tax breaks, and – to the dismay of Republicans – tax increases for the wealthiest Americans and big businesses. Obama said the time to act is now:
Why are we shortchanging our children when we could be putting teachers back in the classroom right now, where they belong? Laying off teachers, laying off police officer, laying off firefighters all across the country because state and local budgets are tough. Why aren’t we helping? We did in the first two years. And then this other crowd came into Congress and now suddenly they want to stop. Tell me why we shouldn’t give companies tax credits for hiring the men and women who’ve risked their lives for this country — our veterans. There is no good answer for that. They shouldn’t be fighting to find a job when they come home.
These Republicans in Congress like to talk about job creators. How about doing something real for job creators? Pass this jobs bill, and every small business owner in America, including 100,000 black-owned businesses, will get a tax cut. You say you’re the party of tax cuts. Pass this jobs bill, and every worker in America, including nearly 20 million African American workers, will get a tax cut. Pass this jobs bill, and prove you’ll fight just as hard for a tax cut for ordinary folks as you do for all your contributors.
African American voters remain a key voting bloc for Obama. Their historic turnout in the 2008 election helped catapult the then-presidential hopeful to victory.
Black Caucus leaders remain supportive of Obama, but have been put off by the president’s concessions to Republicans, especially in this summer’s debate over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
Do you think President Obama has given enough attention to the problem of black unemployment?